Skip to content Skip to footer

5 photographers capturing graduations in the pandemic the right way

Who else is happy to see graduation photos surfacing on IG again? This is for the graduation photography brightening up our spring once again, as the pandemic in America gets less severe every day.

Graduation season is here, so it is time to celebrate the people who have worked hard to earn their degrees. We should especially acknowledge those who have had to overcome great obstacles to get to where they are. 

Systemic racism and sexism can act against BIPOC, women, and the LGBTQ community in our education system, often making it harder for individuals within these groups to graduate.

Additionally, this year, all seniors had to experience their graduation at their institutions in a pandemic, and photography captured the struggle and ultimate joy at the semester coming to a close. Graduates underwent zoom fatigue, increased stress levels and isolation, in addition to other obstacles, and thus graduating was no easy feat. 

We appreciate these photographers whose work captures these powerful moments of scholarship and triumph at graduation after a year-long pandemic.

Khalidah Carrington

Carrington is a multidisciplinary artist and photographer. She is the creator of Black Lotus Creative Collective, which acts as a space for Black and Brown creatives to share their work and access any resources they might need to succeed.

You can follow her work at

We love these graduation photos that Carrington took at the Central Park Conservatory Garden. Her photography was able to capture a pivotal moment in a young woman’s life, at graduation during a harrowing pandemic.

Latricia Morgan (The Artsy Plug)

Latricia Morgan, aka The Artsy Plug, is a New York City photographer. She focuses on capturing the beauty of diversity in her work. In an interview with KultureHub, Morgan said:

“A big reason I started was like, ‘what about us? What about the regular people? What about the girls with big noses, flat noses, or the girls with big lips and dark skin like myself’?”

Morgan understands the importance of representing real Black women in art and media.

She added, “I thought it definitely was my job to shoot for more girls that look like me and also make space for any girl within the minority role, who don’t look like what the media fetishizes.”

Morgan’s philosophies shine through in her graduation photography, still as we live during the pandemic. She presents the beauty in her subjects without jeopardizing their integrity. In other words, her subjects get to remain themselves.

Aaron Nelson

A digital creator and photographer, Aaron Nelson has been able to capture some inspirational success stories. 

This image shows a woman who recently received her Master’s Degree. The daughter of immigrants, she is standing where her story began—Michael’s Market in East Side Stockton.

Nelson is helping this woman share her success story by emphasizing her background, where obtaining a Master’s is rare. Nelson’s photograph outlines her journey to success. 

Overall, Nelson works to show real people and real stories in his untraditional shoots.

Thomas Campos

Campos is a photographer based in New Jersey and New York City. He focuses on portraits, maternity sessions, food photography, weddings, and other special events. 

His photo shoot with this young woman showcases her inspirational story. Campos wrote in his Instagram caption:

“About 2 weeks ago, I received an inquiry for graduation portraits from @jesstawil. I came to learn about her story and I must say, she is truly inspiring – the perfect example of what it means to push through, despite all odds, all fears & all insecurities.”

Thomas Campos

Not only is Campos’ graduation photography showing stories of people overcoming odds to succeed, but he is also showing how building a relationship between creator and subject can enhance photography. This woman was able to share her story with Nelson, and together they were able to effectively convey that story through a camera lens. 

Campos also took these shots of @yannisalejo. He first met her when photographing her sweet 16 and got to work with her again on her graduation day, better appreciating her accolades. Their relationship in photography helped Campos do her graduation story justice through his work during the pandemic. 

Black Girls Graduate

Black Girls Graduate is highlighting the successes of powerful Black women. This organization also provides financial and career resources for Black women. 

It is especially important to acknowledge the work that these women have done, as systemic racism may have worked against them in the education system

The Condition of Education 2020 reports the disparities in education and graduation rates. As written in the report, “the high school graduation rate of Whites is 10% higher than Blacks” in the US, and this is “a systemic societal problem within the education system.” 

Nonetheless, these Black women have earned impressive accolades, and Black Girls Graduate is celebrating them as they deserve. 

Photography tells us stories of the difficulties of graduating in a pandemic

The stresses of the pandemic only exacerbated the stresses of school.

However, this graduation amidst the pandemic and the photography telling different stories shows the resolve on display from successful students across the U.S. and the entire globe.

It is impressive to earn your degree in any year, but in 2021 especially, graduates deserve our respect and admiration.

We appreciate these photographers who are highlighting these successful graduates and granting them a way to share their stories.