Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
If you’ve been following along with Sarah and I lately, you probably noticed that things got pretty hectic for us this Spring. Since 2016, we’ve run an annual promotion on UVA’s Grounds each Spring, photographing members of the graduating class with a UVA graduation photoshoot in their final months before they “Walk the Lawn” on graduation day.
For a variety of reasons, this year the promotion really took off. In the last three years combined, we photographed just over 200 grads. This year more than 150 members of the Class of 2019 signed up for a session with us!
So from late-March through the weekend of UVA’s “Final Exercises” in late-May, I was on UVA’s Lawn – the center of the University of Virginia – just after the sun rose for back-to-back photoshoots almost every single day. And after meeting that many soon-to-be-grads, I couldn’t help but notice a few important trends.
One thing that really stood out to Sarah and I this year was the sheer volume of large group sessions we captured. Not to mention our largest ever grad shoot with TEN girls! Large sessions always present a challenge, but can also be a total blast.
The difficulties of posing large groups and getting everyone to smile (and not blink) at the same time are offset by the hilarious dynamics that the many friendships brought out in each other. Yes, we had to move a bit slower and take a bit longer to set up each shot. But we certainly spent a lot more time laughing with our grads this year!
Actually, we can’t attest to whether or not the Class of 2019 liked to drink champagne, but we can confirm without any doubt that they really loved to spray it! No matter the size of the group – whether one lone girl with a single bottle or almost a dozen raucous sorority sisters with just as many bottles – it felt like we finished nearly every single UVA graduation photoshoot by watering the Lawn with bubbly!
One of our grads Leigh Anna even sprayed her bottle while more than 50 students gathered on the Rotunda steps behind her for a group photo. She got a roaring applause as soon as she finished!
And of course, there was always the post-champagne posed photo, which each group really made their own.
Anytime someone gets in front of our cameras, we always want to make an effort to get to know them. Of course, our HSP grads are no different! So to get grads talking during their UVA graduation photoshoot, we often asked them to think about their favorite moment or greatest accomplishment during their time at UVA.
Although we got a few unique answers early on, it shouldn’t surprise you that after April 8th, we only got a single answer from more than 100 grads about their favorite memory: cheering on the Hoos as they took home the National Championship in men’s basketball! Three of our grads even threw on their basketball t-shirts on top of their dresses for a few photos!
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you just have to appreciate the momentous, spectacular, and unprecedented victory that the Cavaliers brought home from Minneapolis this Spring. In a single season, the Wahoos went from being the first ever #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed (2018) to taking home the trophy after not one, not two but THREE incredible, nail-biting come-from-behind victories (2019)! This was certainly a season that will be the subject of a movie or two. So big shocker here, but every grad we asked referenced that as the greatest moment of their time at UVA. As a Wahoo myself, I can’t blame them one bit!
Despite these broad characterizations I’ve been making about UVA’s newest Alumni, it goes without saying that no two grads were alike. And because of that, ever UVA graduation photoshoot was totally unique!
But what stood out this year was how the Class of 2019 let their personalities shine through in their photos. Sometimes in ways that surprised even us! From the art major who brought her sketchbook along for the session, to the Law student who brought her favorite bubble tea. From the architecture student who literally hugged a column, to the couple who brought along a plastic pink flamingo (an a capella group mascot, apparently). Clearly, everyone was ready to express themselves.
Then of course, there were plenty of grads who just wanted to get goofy. Some danced. Most laughed. One group brought a pizza box from Christian’s Pizza. Another brought board games with them. Some ladies even made their guy friends stand in the middle of the “sorority side-hug”! But no matter what they were doing – they were true to themselves, and they had a great time!
Here’s to you class of 2019! Best of luck in life after UVA!