Friends, families and faculty will join together to celebrate the graduation of the Elon University Class of 2016 on May 21. In 2015, about 1,400 students graduated with relatives and peers in tow. The large crowds prove difficult to navigate, leaving graduates unsure if they can find their friends for one final picture together in their caps and gowns. 

For many graduating seniors, the chaos of commencement is not something they want to combat. Instead, many reach out to current students, alumni and professionals to take their portraits during the spring semester. 

Seniors Rebecca Rosenblat and Emily Usher reached out to Chanelle Smith ‘15 for their senior portraits after seeing a previous graduate’s portraits, which Smith had taken. As a college student, Rosenblat wanted photos done at a cheaper price.

“I just knew the quality of Chanelle’s photos and after getting a price quote from her and realizing it was in all of our budgets, we went with her,” Rosenblat said. I’ve also heard great things about the way she runs her sessions, so my friends and I decided it would be a great fit for us.”

Rosenblat was encouraged to get senior portraits early on by her parents in order to send out graduation announcements to family and friends on time.

Since graduation, Smith has created her own photography business, Chanelle Smith Photography, with clients comprising mainly of Elon students and some from universities in Greensboro. This semester alone, Smith has done more than 15 senior portrait sessions for Elon seniors.

“Graduation is a momentous occasion that should be remembered by photographs,” Smith said.

A small handful of students have also contacted junior Nic Nelson for their senior portraits. Nelson occasionally photographs Elon events, including many a cappella concerts, making his professional presence well known on campus. His love for photography began during his sophomore year in high school when a friend approached him to take her pictures, which started his desire to take more senior portraits through his college career. 

While some students opt for older professional photographers as opposed to students on campus, Nelson believes as long as good photos are taken, it shouldn’t matter who takes them.

“I mean, I don’t necessarily think it matters how old a photographer is,” Nelson said. “Yes, it is possible that someone who’s older has more experience but if you’re good at something, why should the age matter?”


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