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7 Ways To Spice Up Your Grad Photos

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

A week ago I sent my roommate a TikTok featuring a college senior posing in her cap and gown at In-N-Out. Though at first, I was somewhat skeptical of her graduation photo choices, I saw the vintage-esque, charmingly grainy results and immediately understood why the video earned over a million views.

Unconventional graduation pictures are becoming quite the phenomenon, with students opting for more personalized, quirky (and likely more memorable) alternatives to the traditional photo shoot. The virality of such shoots and their stellar results are driving forces behind their popularity, with photographers such as @michaelbetznerphotograph consistently raking in over a million views for his posting his photoshoots’ results. Here are 7 ways you can change up your grad photos and make them a little less traditional:

add a quirky prop

An easy way to spice up your grad photos might be swapping the champagne bottle for something more unique. Not only does this make your photos stand out, but it can also be a great way to add some personality to your pictures. Just the other day, I was walking to class and noticed two friends sitting with knitting needles for their graduation photos. Though I’ve walked past countless graduation photoshoots the past few weeks, this one got me to stop and look, wondering why they chose knitting needles (was it a hobby? a club? an inside joke?)

Check out this TikTok for inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdW6QhGC/?k=1

use an unusual setting

Perhaps there’s a special place on campus you love going to, like a cafe or library. Maybe there’s a bar in your college town or a park you like to read at. Experimenting with different settings might be a perfect way to encapsulate your essence and your college experience.

Check out this TikTok for Inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdWjWVd6/?k=1

opt for a film camera

Simply switching cameras might be just what you need to enliven your photoshoot. Film cameras (such as 35mm cameras and disposables) are making a comeback and can provide the perfect warm, grainy vintage feel to your photos.

Check out this TikTok for inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdW6Lht7/?k=1

try a Unique outfit

So, you’re not into white dresses and decide to wear a suit. Or you have a favorite pair of boots that you feel best represent you. Being brave with your wardrobe choices can be a form of self-expression and a great way to memorialize your character for the camera.

Check out this TikTok for inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdWj7mUb/?k=1

coordinate a group pic

College is all about friendships! What better way to represent your college experience than with a group of your besties? Bonus points if you color-coordinate your outfits or snap some pics in your favorite study spot.

Check out this TikTok for inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdWjw7Sh/?k=1

do something you love

After all, this photoshoot is about capturing you. We are all happiest and most at home doing the things we love. Whether it’s reading, writing, surfing or playing an instrument, taking pictures doing something you enjoy might be the best way to embody you.

Check out this TikTok for inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdW6JXeK/?k=1

follow a theme

Themes are perhaps the most underrated of options on this list. Some of my favorite grad photos I’ve seen include themes from shows, time periods, books or even locations. Though this is definitely a bolder choice, it’s sure to help your photos stick out.

Check out this TikTok for inspo: https://www.tiktok.com/t/ZTdW6Romo/?k=1

Some simple incorporations or a quick camera change might be all you need to feel like your grad photos are more personal. These photos are supposed to embody you. So, whether it’s mixing up some of these ideas, opting for one, or skipping them altogether, remember that you know yourself best. But don’t be afraid to switch it up!

Kylee is a fourth-year at UCLA double-majoring in Communication and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her poems have been published in Train River Poetry, The Mandarin, Open Ceilings, and our very own Westwind (among others). She also writes feature articles for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time, she acts, drinks way too much coffee, romanticizes everything, and buys more books than she can keep up with.