It's graduation season! I've been a graduate photographer since my own college days (what feels like 100 years ago), and I know how daunting it can be to shoot on ASU's giant Tempe campus if you're unfamiliar. This campus is teeming with gorgeous backdrops—let me guide you through the staples!
As a bonus—scroll to the bottom for an interactive map of each highlighted location!
The obvious. The centerpiece. The must-have. No matter the crowds, don't pass up this spot! No Sun Devil regrets here. I recommend scheduling your session outside of graduation months, or opt for early morning instead of afternoon, to avoid unwanted guests in your photos and plenty of time on the steps. Or get yourself a great photog with serious Photoshop skills (*cough cough*)... I may know one!
A separate note for photographers: Please be respectful of others taking photos here by coming up with a game plan while shooting on the steps or near the fountain. There's plenty of room for everyone, but I recommend utilizing every part of the grounds while waiting! I also tell my clients not to bring lots of extras so outfits, bags and other items aren't cluttering the ground.
Another campus must-see, this infinite stretch of gorgeous palm trees runs north and south on campus — you can reach my favorite stretch just behind Old Main. Palm walk was re-planted just a few years ago, so the trees are extra clean and well-maintained. It's all about angles here, and can make for some super unique photos!
University Dr. Pedestrian Bridge
Located at the north end of palm walk, the pedestrian bridge spans the space between the main part of campus and that which holds the football field and arena. Climbing up is a bit steep, but the views are worth it! Palms were planted up and down the middle of University Drive in 2019, so the backdrop has changed since I was a student, but it still allows for the perfect spot to snag the sunset and a bit of the ever-growing Tempe skyline. I almost never meet other grads taking photos here!
Hayden Library is an absolute monstrosity—if you've never seen it, the main steps descend underground where it expands out in all directions, popping up with gorgeous buildings to the east and west, with a large protruding skylight in the middle. There are SO many great options spanning this courtyard without even entering the library itself. I have so much fun with the different architecture here, and this is a prime spot to snag photos with the umbrella of bougainvillea that blooms in cycles, usually reaching their fullest in March and April and returning in late fall.
The ASU Art Museum is hands-down one of the most unique buildings in the area. It was designed by Antione Predock, an Albuquerque-based architect, who gave it its signature pink walls. There is so much space here to get creative and add a pop of fun color to your photos!
This building is one of my favorites on campus. Another architectural playground, Coor Hall has so many nooks where sunlight streams in during the afternoon, flooding the industrial metal walls with gold.
(Insert Your School Here!)
Last but not least, don't forget to snag a photo in front of YOUR building! I always ask my graduates to go one step further to personalize their sessions—and getting photos with your school is the perfect addition. It's where you met your professors, took exams and slaved away for hours. It's a place you'll probably never set foot in again, so memorializing it during your session is a must.