Fresh@CU: Photographing Graduates

I was given the opportunity to be on the team which will cover the Media and Communications department’s Graduation Day. This is a job given to us by George Rippon of Fresh@CU (media production service) and along with Alex Mason, Hollie Woodward, Kate Green and Melissa Stapleton we are going to effectively make the photographs, print them and send them over to the graduate students. Hollie was appointed leader of the team, in order to manage communications between us, George and Caroline Parkinson, Course and Department Administrator.


The Graduation Day is on the 19th of November, which is giving us a considerable amount of time to plan ahead down to the last detail. On the first meeting with George, at the Fresh office, we discussed the size of the prints as well as the envelopes, some thoughts on prices and of course, which space we thought was more appropriate.

The size of the print matters for two simple reasons. We had to find the most appropriate size that would fit a photograph from a full-frame sensor (aspect ratio 3:2) without cropping the image as well as being a satisfactory size for accommodating the memories of a graduation day. It seems that the 10″ x 8″ frames are the most common people can buy on the retail market. One more reason, but minor, is that it is beneficial if the print fitted the C4 envelope. For the prices we had to consider the factors of print and envelope costs, postage & packaging. The price should also reflect on the work and time we all put into this.

We researched photographers who cover graduation days in universities and what services they offer, most common print sizes and their retail price. As in our situation we haven’t had any previous experience in organizing such a service nor a manual on how to do this. By putting all our knowledge together we managed to find a good solution.

The most tricky of all was finding an appropriate space that would fit up to 60 students, the lighting setup and give us enough room to make the photographs without using a super wide angle lens. Two spaces discussed from the beginning were the Photography Studio and our new photography flexible space, which happens to have a massive white cove on one side. After the graduation ceremony, students are to attend an after party which will be hosted in SquareOne. We discussed the possibility of shooting in a multipurpose space as it’s big enough to accommodate all the students.


On our second meeting we met with Caroline Parkinson and George and discussed more on the possibility of using SquareOne. We investigated the space and found that we might have some difficulties. The space’s walls are made from a black material that does not reflect light evenly. Also we assessed that it would be a risk having all our equipment in the same space were people are partying.

We decided to use the ETG07, the new photography area. We had to find a way to bring approximately 250 students across the street. Caroline will help us coordinating the task by providing us with a person who will be responsible of announcing which course is on and when. Given just 15 minutes to make the group photograph for each course is challenging and thus planning everything ahead is crucial.

We will create a one-way system leading the students in the area, take the photographs, make a payment if they want a copy, move them out and bring the next group in. The times are as follow:

17:15 – Advertising and Media
17:30 – Communication, Culture and Media
17:45 – Journalism
18:00 – Media Production
18:15 – Photography

18:30 – All Courses

As you can see we have very limited time-frame with each group. In order to speed up the process we will let the students input their details on a spreadsheet and to avoid any mishaps we are going to use Google’s shared docs. The reason we are doing this is the reliability of the service, as every time you hit the return button it saves it instantly. A second reason the service comes handy is that we can collaborate simultaneously from both studios, if we are to use both. I run some tests on the service as I haven’t been using it too much and I found out that it also keeps different versions of the file, which hopefully, will save us from losing the data, a common fear when dealing with digital technologies.

What is still left for completing the preparation is to design the lighting setup and sorting out the crowd-control task.


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