Posts Tagged ‘graduation’


Graduations, for me, are fun to shoot.  

In any given moment or spread of shots there is whatever emotion you might imagine and there are all ages to pick from.  Thankfully, it seems that nowadays, the ceremonies are short and its common that there is a lot of comedy.

The OC Register called with the Dana Hills graduation assignment early in the week and then because of someone getting sick I got the El Toro graduation at the last minute.  The shots for the Dana Hills High School went in the paper and on line but the story I wrote got lost and didn’t make it, lost in the system, so I include it here.

I wrote a story for El Toro as well and I think it went in but will have to check and post it here after 30 days.  I almost didn’t make it as the Dana Hills Graduation was barely over when the El Toro Graduation was just starting.  The event was at The Bren Center on the UCI campus.  Five dollars for the toll road and another seven dollars for parking.  I should have flashed my press pass to see if they would waive the fee but usually it means a phone call, the standard back an forth, and there was just no time.

Last year at The San Clemente Graduation I shot the cap toss with my wide angle and I was anxious to shoot it again at Dana.  I got in position to shoot it and its an okay shot and will look great blown up but caught something I was doing wrong and now I will have to wait an entire year to try it.  I was going to try it at El Toro’s graduation and it would have been great but I got pulled off the floor by the protocol police because “…The Register knows we don’t allow photographers on the floor…”  Whatever. 



DANA POINT(CA.)-Beaneath a sea of Dolphin blue caps, the Dana Hills High School Class of 2009, 686 smiling faces in all, sat patiently on the football field in the bright Thursday afternoon sun.   Acknowledging the hoots, hollers and shouts of congratulations from family and friends in the stands, one by one, each graduate stood, waiting to receive their hard earned diploma.  A short walk to the podium, a photo and back to their seat, with a diploma was all the time it took if you don’t count the four years it took to get there.


Max Kelley, Associated Student Union Vice-President commented that the last four years had been a time of change, highlighting the fact that as freshman there was no FaceBook or even U-tube.  Kelley encouraged his classmates with the idea that with change comes experience and opportunity and together they should look forward to what opportunities the world has.


“We can do anything we want…(we have) an unlimited opportunity to make our life meaningful…” Kelley said.


Jeremy Chang, as the Dolphin Scholar of Scholars used the movie “Risky Business” with Tom Cruise as a lighthearted example of how to accomplish a goal and at the same time challenged the Class of 2009 to examine and rethink their values.


“I encourage everyone to consider the well-being of others…”Chang said.


Graduating students, brother and sister, Rory and Megan Weinell, spoke together and brought laughs from students and faculty with props and comments, including a kitchen rolling pin meant to be a scroll of past commencement speeches at elementary and middle schools and one (hopefully) from their presumed future at Yale.  They bemoaned their job opportunities in the light of the present economic crisis.


“There is no hope of finding jobs because they’ve all been taken by the Dana alumni…” Megan Weinell said.


After the official acceptance of the Class of 2009 by faculty and staff, the students wasted no time to throw their caps into the air accompanied by the release of several dozen white doves.  Family and friends where invited to join the graduates on the field with hugs, handshakes and a lot of photos.


Alexis Kubicki will attend Orange Coast College to study illustration in the fall and was surrounded by family and friends, enthusiastically posing for photos in endless combinations.  Kubiki’s mom, Lisa Smith qualified her daughter as the best artist at Dana hills, also commenting that she is beautiful inside and out while her father Marty Aahmes offered her some sage advice.


“You must remember to stay young, look for happiness and constant growth…” Aames said



Read Full Post »

A San Clemente High School graduate stands for recognition during commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2008, on Wednesday, June 18, 2008. 




If I remember right, “All Hail San Clemente”, is the anthem of San Clemente High School; all my brothers and sisters will have sung it at one time or another.  The only part I remember is the first part and how the cheerleaders sang it, arm in arm, swaying back and forth, with hands raised high in some kind of peace sign, beginning with the index finger.  It has a tune that I would know if I heard it but strangely, like the pledge of allegiance, I couldn’t sing it alone with a knife to my throat.



 “…The only part I remember is the first part and how the cheerleaders sang it, arm in arm, swaying back and forth, with hands raised high in some kind of peace sign…”




 I shot the graduation for San Clemente High School today for the Orange County Register and the Sun Post News, and on the same field that I graduated on in 1982.  I was expecting more of an odd feeling of Déjà vu but it didn’t come.  At the moment I write this I am waiting for my photos to download so I can process them and get them to the photo desk at the paper and they can get them on the website. 






A San Clemente High School faculty member announces the next graduate for the class of 2008.


“…If it wasn’t for President Nixon and some wayward and awed Rose Bowl stragglers, we would be as alone as any other small Podunk American small town…”




San Clemente is a town. A place and a people that won’t hit you like a great song on the radio after a great day at work or on the way home in the car from the beach; it isn’t like some kind of nationally shared movie moment of  teary emotion, sight and sound.  We don’t make cars or appliances in San Clemente and it’s not a farming community where there is that corn on the cob and  four H ribbon of a solid “I am America” feeling, either.  It is something that plays itself alone to each person that was born here and is often the case, those that were not born here but live her feel it the strongest.  If it wasn’t for President Nixon and some wayward and awed Rose Bowl stragglers, we would be as alone as any other small Podunk American small town.



 A San Clemente High School, Class of 2008, graduate proudly recieves his diploma on Wednesday, June 18, 2008.

How do you explain it?  The only thing I can say is that it has to be a combination of many things, all put together, in one package that changes, ever so slightly, from one person to another.  I think that this is what it must be for every town and community at this time of year as they release their youth to the streams that will eventually lead to that really big ocean that is the world. 


“…I had a good time but I didn’t break through any journalistic barriers or force fields like some kind of Captain Kirk…”


We might ask, if like salmon, they will return instinctively to where they were born.  I don’t know and I don’t think it matters.  They are free but then, when they taste again the

waters of their youth, they will know they are home and where they began; it will be up to them whether they stay or not.


I shot all the standard shots today and as I took them, I knew I had them.  The group shot, the solo pensive shot…the buddies shot and the girlfriend shot…the head and shoulders, above the rest shot, the hug shot, the confident, the nervous and the “…OMG…What am I gonna do now, shot…”.   I could have left a lot sooner than I did.  I wanted to get the whole story, from start to finish.  I had a good time but I didn’t break through any journalistic barriers or force fields like some kind of Captain Kirk.  “Standard/Standard” as they say.  “Standard/Standard”…at least within the city limits of this town;  it is what it is.  Maybe you have to be from here to know exactly what that means but, I don’t think so.  “All Hail San Clemente…” oh yeah, I just remembered the next line:


“…We Pledge Our Loyalty…”



San Clemente High School, Class of 2008.






Read Full Post »

Santa Margarita Catholic High School Class of 2008.

 I shot the Santa Margarita Catholic High School Class of 2008 graduation ceremony on Saturday for the newspaper.  It was held at The Bren Center at UCI in Irvine.  I got there early and shot the kids getting ready outside, and the lineup to go in.


Nervous and excited, they hugged, shook hands and smiled at each other.  There were a little over 400 total graduates this year.  It occurred to me that this will be the last time they will all be together in one spot again; a bitter sweet freedom, and if you have graduated from high school, you will instantly know what I mean.  I imagined the photos I took today, printed in the paper, will find their way into more than a few scrap books and maybe a poster at the 20 year reunion. 


I saw these two posing for pictures with family and friends and having a great time defending themselves from jibes and jokes designed for funny expressions and the snap of a photo.  They are best friends; one is destined for Notre Dame in the fall and the other is going to Holy Cross.  A bright future shines in their eyes; the soft shadow of accomplishment spreads across those that surround them.  The small concrete courtyard where they stand, smiling and leaning on each other, is not big enough for who they are now.  Our timid awareness that most of the class of 2008 will not see each other again is relieved with these two.


Amazingly, over their lifetime, they will become better friends.  They are the sum of all the photos I have taken of the class of 2008.


I see them both at each others wedding and both as the best man.  I think they will most likely live close to each other and if not, I see a big phone bill from calling every day.  Closer at hand, I foresee a summer roadtrip sometime in the next four years where they could not possibly imagine no one in the small Midwest towns they’ll pass through, will be able to recognize a roadtrip when they see one.  They will attempt to break all the records of messy hotel rooms, cheap diners, brutaly red sunburns and staying awake the longest.  They will have bags full of fun and talk about their trip for the next 60 years, even after their wives have long left the room.   


They will be the godfathers for each others children and they will send each other funny gag gifts on birthdays.  They’ll share golf tips and become mildly irritated after discussing the merits of their individual favorite professional sports teams.  They already know which of them doesn’t like ketchup or mustard or mayo or wheat bread.  They will get to be 50 years old and wonder about how fast it’s all gone by while they stand with their sons and daughters for photos in a courtyard that is not big enough for them. 




Read Full Post »