Monday, May 22, 2006

Graduation Photo Collages

By Christina VanGinkel

If you have kids, chances are you are snapping photographs of them all the time, at sporting events, school functions, vacations, whenever an opportunity for a good photo op occurs. What many of us never give any consideration too is that at some point, we may find ourselves looking back through all of these photos to put together a timeline. What I am talking about is when these sweet little bundles of joy reach high school; graduation is just around the corner. With graduation, come graduation parties and celebrations, and with these graduation parties and celebrations often comes the need for some type of board to display.

On these boards is typically a collage of the graduate's life up to the month of graduation. Visiting several graduation parties already this year, and several more coming up during the month of June, what seems standard at each one of them is this photographic display. In fact, I have been observing them for years, and the only thing that seems to change is the grandiose way many of them are assembled. (Along with the boards, as more people take up the hobby of scrapbooking, several scrapbooks often will accompany the board, yet another great reason to get working on putting some great layouts together!) I was at one graduation two years ago, where one father had also set up a laptop with a running photo story, complete with music and text. He used still photos and put them together in a visual timeline that would play to the end and then just loop back to the beginning. He received quite a few complements on it and I thought it was a great way to blend photos with the new age of media.

Some of the displays that I have seen through the years are fun, incorporating snapshots of various themes, and others have been more serious, just using the student's school photos for example. Personally, I much prefer the more carefree, fun ones. However, any way they are put together is usually good.

The purpose of the boards and displays of photos is twofold. It provides a conversation starter for the guests attending the graduation celebration, as many of those attending might very well be in some of the photographs themselves. It is also a great way for the proud parents to share all of their work of raising a child to near adulthood with out of town relatives who might not have been present for much of the photo's happenings.

This brings me around to my renewed interest in taking pictures of my soon to be eighth grader. I would like to have at his graduation both a board with assorted snapshots of his life from infant to senior. I would also love to have a scrapbook with a page for each school year. I figure if I start assembling the scrapbook now, and plucking old photos out of all their scattered places for inclusion in the board, I might just be able to pull it off. How some of these other parents do this project without planning, I have not a clue, but for me, planning is absolutely needed, or else I know I will be overwhelmed when it comes time to actually pull it all together.

I also hope to use the motivation for this project, both the scrapbook and the board, for inspiration towards future photo taking. I have been known too head out to sporting events that my son is involved in, or to school functions, even short vacations, without my camera. That I have two newer digitals is of no consequence! I always intend to take pictures, and will be good about it for short spans of time, then totally forgo any picture taking for long spans. Therefore, with this long-term project now in the works, I have vowed to never head out the door without my camera again. I figure that if I start treating it more like an appendage than a separate object, I might just be able to pull it off. Couple that with the added task of going through all of the old photos I have of him, and I might just be ready with it all by the time he walks across the stage to receive his diploma!

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