Winner: The Promenade
Golden light shines through the tree canopies, grazing the tops of bikers’ heads as they head home from class, bouncing off the hammocks and right onto the beaming soon-to-be graduated student, decked out in her navy blue and gold stole and white dress. Anytime between 4:30 p.m. and sundown, during “golden-hour,” many awaiting Aggie-Alumni stand on West Quad Ave, right in front of Wellman, taking pictures. Students voted “The Promenade” as the best place to take graduation pictures.
“It’s an iconic spot on campus with a beautiful scene,” said UC Davis 2016 graduate Ed Ju, who earned a major in managerial economics and has been a graduation photographer for five years. “The canopy of trees seem to hug you from above and make you feel at home.”
According to fourth-year textiles and clothing major, Isabella Sun, who recently took graduation pictures with Ju, she got good standing shots on “The Promenade.”
“I think the trees overlap each other nicely and when it’s ‘golden hour,’ you get good sun in that area,” Sun said.
“The Promenade” is an iconic place in Davis and is a good representation of the trees and lushness that people love about the campus, according to UC Davis 2016 graduate Marisa Morton, who earned a major in design, and also is a graduation photographer. The location evokes many memories for students as it is a common place to walk or bike through.
“For a lot of students, this place really captures the essence of Davis,” Ju said. “You’ve got the bikers, the trees, the classrooms. It’s a walkway down memory lane.”
Additionally, according to Morton, when people see others taking graduation pictures on this street, it makes more students want to take pictures there too. However, the street is pretty busy and this coupled with its popularity make private photo shoots difficult.
“Luckily, with just the perspective of the street, if you are far enough back from [the other people taking pictures], you can fit that entire group behind someone’s head,” Morton said. “My biggest issue is when there’s a dump truck or vehicles parked on that street. Sometimes you can just move to the other side of it, it just depends on the issue.”
Even though West Quad Ave is a popular place to take pictures, students take pictures on other spots on campus as well. Other streets, like Hutchinson Drive near the library, the Silo or Storer Mall near the Science Lab Building, are good places to take pictures according to Morton. Also the Arboretum, especially the west side near the fields and the big Oak trees, is a nice place to get shots.
“[The best to take pictures] depends on what defines you as a UC Davis student and where you want to take photos,” Sun said.
According to Sun, she likes pictures taken outside of Mrak Hall with the Egghead sculpture or by the UC Davis brick wall sign on East Field.
“I’m surprised the most popular spot was not voted the UC Davis sign,” Morton said. “It’s not the best spot, but it does have the word UC Davis written. It’s the perfect spot for lighting because the sun comes from behind.”
To get pictures taken at the UC Davis brick wall, there can be up to a two or three hour wait, according to Morton. There is always a line, so Morton usually tells people to get pictures in this place at another time or just skip the spot.
“To me, the best place isn’t always the most popular,” Ju said. “The best place could be an abandoned corner or a random field. The best place to me would be the place that you spent meaningful time with meaningful people.”
According to Morton, one reason students take graduation pictures is to boost their self perception of themselves and give them confidence in their next chapter of life.
“I take pictures of a lot of women mostly,” Morton said. “I can’t speak to everyone’s experiences, but having a photoshoot can be really good for your view of yourself. It’s nice to have pictures of your smiling self and people who are close to you at that time.”
However the main reason students take these pictures is to commemorate and document their graduation, which is an exciting and big turning point in one’s life.
“Students invest their time, energy and money into their college education,” Ju said. “With the support of family members, graduating college is a victory on many levels. You’re surrounded by the people you love and you’re moving onto something greater. It’s something you want to remember forever and pictures help do that.”
Lastly, taking graduation pictures is a way for students to say goodbye and remember some of their favorite places on campus, according to fourth-year theatre and dance and English major Victoria Casas.
“I also believe its a nice way to say goodbye to the campus that has been our home, by taking some final pictures with your stole at some of your favorite spots,” Casas said.
Written by: Margo Rosenbaum — firstname.lastname@example.org