"I am so happy for all of you, and yet you know how much I empathize with the challenges all of this brings. It's a bittersweet time, isn't it. You both look lovely, and I'm like everyone else who also loves the hat shot. Did you take that? Even the angle is interesting. "
Well, I thought that was a really good question. It was a great shot, something I'm proud that I took. Sometimes, however, those great kinds of shots take a bit of planning and work. For all you camera buffs who might be attending a graduation in the near future, here is how I captured that once in a lifetime moment.
First off, fight your way through the honking big crowd until you can find a patch of ground you can plant your feet on. Then change your mind and keep moving, all the while, knowing they might be taking the shot at any second.
Don't feel panicked when you cannot, in any way, find your own child in the midst of the 274 blue gowns and caps. Resolve within yourself that you won't get a close up anyway. It'll just have to be a group shot.
Now climb up and balance yourself on an 18" - 24" high garden barrier that you've located and have found an open spot on. Now be careful because it is a curved barrier and where you got a spot is actually starting to curve away from the action.
Now stand there and wait for a few minutes, while the "real" professional photographer organizes himself up front. Check your settings making sure the camera is ready to go so you don't get caught with it turned off or on a 2 second shutter delay. (Lesson learned from the convocation part of the ceremony). Balance yourself. Don't fall off on the baby and carriage someone parked right beside you! Take a test shot and notice there is a guy with a great big white cowboy hat taking up most of your frame.
Shuffle back a bit on the barrier without falling and without knocking anyone else off. You don't want to cause a scene and embarrass your grad in front of all these classmates and people. That would not be a good thing!
Now when they start the countdown for the hat toss get your camera arm up and ready with your finger on the button! Now very quickly and carefully, lean as far as you dare to your right, because a person has jumped on the barrier in front of you and has gotten their arm squarely into your viewfinder, all the while trying to stay on your precarious perch, not giving in to gravity and falling on the baby and carriage.
Point the camera slightly higher to get above the heads and arms upraised on the ground. Work quickly, as this is all happening within a count of three! Ignore the nagging pressure of knowing you have one chance at getting a picture. Now take the picture as soon as you see blue hats flying above the crowd.
Great pic with an interesting angle.