A senior female student wearing her gown and cap for her graduation photoshoot

When Do You Take Cap and Gown Pictures?

Not planning for graduation photos can lead to missing out on preserving important memories or having regrets later about lackluster images. Since 2001, I’ve been helping senior-year students document this special moment. I’m going to explain when you should take cap and gown photos.

When Do You Take Cap and Gown Pictures?

The best time to take cap and gown pictures is one to two months before the commencement ceremony. This provides time to have the photos printed and sent to family and friends. You may also consider your senior year’s spring and fall seasons just before graduation festivities begin.

A senior female student wearing her gown and cap for her graduation photoshoot

Scheduling a senior portrait photo shoot in advance ensures you get the timing right to commemorate graduation memories. This timing gives you the final version of your gown and cap. Likewise, the images will be ready for graduation-themed events or keepsakes. 

Best Situations to Schedule a Cap and Gown Photo Session

Timing is vital when planning your gown and cap photos so you can confidently pose for those milestone moments. I’ll help you navigate when to schedule your cap and gown pictures for optimal results.

Months Before Your Graduation

Whenever high school seniors ask about photo session schedules, my top advice is to start early. Ideally, graduation photos should be taken a few months before your graduation ceremony. This time frame provides ample opportunity to:

  • Select and order your graduation attire without rush fees
  • Choose a location that has significance for you
  • Have a diverse set of backdrops without worrying about seasonal changes

Two Months Before Your Yearbook Deadline

At least two months before the deadline gives you breathing room for photobook submission and editing. This allows time for selecting the best photos and any retouching that might be necessary.

Special Occasion a Few Months Before Graduation

Suppose you celebrate a special achievement or event a few months before graduation. It’s the perfect occasion to schedule a gown and cap photo session. For example:

  • Academic awards ceremonies
  • Final performances or athletic events

Best Months to Shoot Cap and Gown Photos

Choosing the right time for your cap and gown images is crucial to capturing this significant milestone. As a professional photographer, there are months when the light and scenery further help me improve the quality of the pictures.

Spring (March to May)

This is going to be the most common time to take photos in your graduation attire, since you’re likely graduating at the end of the school year. 

In the spring, the environment starts to burst with color, which can add a vibrant backdrop to your photos.

A senior student wearing her graduation cap and sash for her photo session

Winter (January to February)

Winter has a charm of its own, especially if you catch a snowy day for your graduation attire shoot. While I typically recommend waiting until the springtime to take these photos, if you happen to get your cap and gown early or need to take these photos well ahead of time, we can schedule something in the winter. 

  • Pros: If we’re shooting at the beach, it will be less crowded compared to other seasons
  • Cons: You’ll have to bundle up between shots

Factors to Consider to Determine When to Take Cap and Gown Pictures

As part of my photography package, I’ll guide you through choosing the setting, pinpointing the ideal date, picking out your attire, and getting prepped with the right grooming and styling.


Being a San Diego-based photographer has allowed me to spot and try different photoshoot locations over the years. Depending on your target date, I can suggest the best places to take senior photos in San Diego. Consider these options:

  • On-campus landmarks for a sentimental touch
  • Nature settings for a serene look
  • Urban environments, if you prefer a modern feel 

Photography Style

Find a photographer whose artistic style resonates with your vision. It’s my goal as a professional portrait photographer to:

  • Showcase my portfolio featuring my expertise in shooting graduation senior pictures
  • Discuss your vision and meet your photography expectations

Attire and Styling

Consider how you want to look in the pictures when planning your graduation attire photoshoot schedule. This can dictate when you should schedule the session.

A graduating student with her red sash and graduation cap

Related Questions

When Should You Take Graduation Pictures?

In my experience, the best time to schedule your graduation photoshoot is a few months before graduation day. This allows wiggle room for retakes or delays and gives you ample time to get those announcements out.

How Do You Take a Cap and Gown Picture?

For cap and gown pictures, dress in your full graduation regalia, including your robe, cap, sash, and honor cords. Pose with your diploma or have a “walking” shot taken to simulate crossing the commencement stage. Take photos on campus or at your school’s stadium for ideal backdrops.

Can You Take Grad Pics After Graduation?

You can still do a grad photoshoot after your graduation ceremony has passed. While you won’t be able to recreate the excitement of lining up with your peers at the big event, you can still wear your graduation gown at a later date. The photos will still capture your achievement.


The best time to take cap and gown photos is one to two months before graduation day to allow time for printing and sharing. Posing with your graduation attire creates a special memento of your high school experience. I can plan your senior year graduation photoshoot to alleviate stress and get quality images.

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