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DIY grad photoshoots: Say “cheese” (or whatever else you want to say)

People everywhere have missed out on highly anticipated events, thanks to ol’ Miss ‘Rona. Events like graduations have been postponed “until further notice” and years of studying have been concluded by clicking “send” … a bit anti-climactic. Despite what Miss Rona might be making you feel about finishing school, online graduation doesn’t make this milestone any less of an accomplishment. 

Photos are trademarks of any major event (pics or it didn’t happen), and these people didn’t let the pandemic stop them from (safely) celebrating their accomplishments through their own DIY graduation photoshoots. 

These set-ups can make anyone feel like the main character… even a cat!  

Isolation may have provided people with space for their creativity to grow. 

Modern problems require modern solutions, so if you are interested in executing your own DIY grad photoshoot then here is some advice from people who have been there and done that.


Pre-production ensures good production

Nala Chincuanco DIY sour inspired graduation shoot
Via Nala Chincuanco on Instagram

Take the time to thoroughly think out how you’re going to achieve the “professional, studio” grad photo look. Think about what you have and how you can utilize these in your DIY photo studio set-up. Think about where you can rent your toga if you need to. 

For your creative shots, you can use this time to scour through Pinterest and Instagram, looking for pegs and inspiration for your own shoot. 

If you’re going to be doing your shoot with the help of your friends, pick the best day and place to shoot and make sure to follow proper safety guidelines when meeting up. Proper planning will help things run smoothly when the day of the shoot arrives, making sure that no time is wasted and that you are able to get all the pictures you wanted!


Use what you have

DIY graduation shoot

Don’t have a DSLR camera? Okay, but do you have a phone with a camera? Then you’re good to go! 

In terms of lighting, why not try substituting desk lamps or your phone’s flashlight for studio lights or make use of the cheapest light source around: the sun! Natural light can be a photographer’s best friend. During the planning stage, take note of the weather during the day you want to shoot.

Recent graduate Nala Chincuanco (DLSU ’21) recommends that when using natural light, “make sure that it is not completely harsh. Try photographing yourselves around 6-10AM in the morning or 4-5PM, or on an overcast day.”


“We’ll fix it in post”

DIY graduation photoshoot

According to DIY grad shoot veteran Annika Mariano (DLSU ’20), her own shoot with her friends “was a huge “let’s fix it in post” moment.” Taking the time to edit your pictures post-photoshoot, allows you to have less restrictions when actually taking your photos.

Mariano adds that “we took photos anywhere we could go outdoors and fixed the lighting/added that extra oomph on Photoshop afterwards.”

Not familiar with Photoshop? No worries! There are many free mobile and desktop apps for photo editing available out there, providing a simple and user-friendly experience. 


“Can I see?” …. “Wait, one more!”

A major advantage of doing your own grad shoot would be having no time/shot limit on your photo taking. The entire set-up is totally flexible to you, and you can take as much photos as you want, so have fun with it!

Having done her own DIY grad shoot, Bella Barretto (DLSU ’20) strongly recommends that incoming graduates try out a DIY grad shoot setup “assuming they would be safe of course.” She adds that “with a DIY shoot by yourself or with friends, you have the creative freedom to do whatever you want”  

Mariano explains that “More than anything, it’s cheaper, it’s safer, and gives you a better chance at expressing yourself the way you want to.” Chincuanco believes that it’s “a great avenue for people to really express themselves on their last leg in grade school, high school, or college.”

Nala Chincuanco
Via Nala Chincuanco on Instagram

Of course… graduation photos are not the only thing one worries about after graduating (even if it is online). Feeling anxious and uncertain about the future? Take comfort in these words of wisdom from earlier class of COVID-19 graduates. 

Barretto urges people to “remember that life is a marathon and not a race,” emphasizing that “Zoom university was no easy feat, and you graduating deserves to be celebrated! If you want to take a break after graduation, go for it! Don’t feel bad or ashamed.” 

Chincuanco reminds graduates that “You just got out of a system that made you study and work nonstop. Now’s your chance to do what you want.”

Mariano affirms that “there’s no need to rush!” claiming that “after all those years of hard work in school, take this time to recover. There’s no better way to celebrate than by taking a break.”

You made it! That’s a big deal. Get some rest (whatever this may mean to you) and celebrate (also, whatever this may mean to you). And of course… best of luck with what’s in store for you in the future, you’re going to do great <3


Other POP! stories you might like:

Students host ‘virtual graduation ceremony’ in Minecraft amid COVID-19 crisis

To limit viral transmission, robots attend graduation ceremony on the students’ behalf

The viral ‘entitled’ fresh grad tweet speaks volumes about the PH job market

Teacher who lost job due to pandemic goes viral for TikTok ‘voice lessons’

How fashion brought positivity to Gen Z during the pandemic

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