I’m Having a Senior Moment

What in the name of all that is holy has happened to high school graduation photos?

Remember getting your senior portrait  taken back in the day? You shuffled into the gym where the P.E. teacher, with now no classes to teach, became the de facto stylist. He or she threw a graduation gown at you and then crammed a mortar board half way down your face while swearing that if you moved the “hat” to the back of your head like a “raccoon trying to get down a chimney” you would have to run the mile.

After the litany of threats, you took your seat behind a blue background, crossed your arms in front of you, smiled while the photographer took five or six photos and then you were unceremoniously hustled out of the chair so the next person in line could get their turn. It was, all in, about a 60 second photo session.

Did you always look amazing in those pictures? No, but you looked like yourself which is one of my huge problems with the whole senior photo extravaganza of today. But, let’s start with me sharing my deepest thought about the whole pic process.

Graduation photos taken at school have now gone the way of people availing themselves of their turn signal on I-35. They still exist but no one uses them. Today’s high school senior schedules a three-hour photo session, with hair and make-up, at least five outfit changes, and with location shoots all over the metro.

I’m baffled by all the senior photos I see of girls posing in the urban core against crumbling brick walls. I’m sure none of these deep suburbia teens go downtown on a regular basis and if they do it’s to a Lady Ga Ga concert not to lean against an abandoned building while wearing heels and a romper.

I had a huge Texas wedding (think puffed sleeved bridal gown and sequins for days) and I didn’t have this level of attention devoted to my bridal pictures. I’ve said it before and, without shame for repeating myself, I’ll say it again. We, as parents, society, whatever, have taken every event in our kid’s lives and blown it up to what I would call “wedding level” proportions. This, my friends, is why the average nuptial costs almost 40 grand because when your high school graduation pics include an entourage to make the “magic happen” that’s going to be pricey to top.

Another huge WTH is looking at pictures so photo shopped you, at first glance, do not recognize the child. First, what 17-year-old needs to be imaged enhanced that extensively? Youth is beauty. It’s not like there’s crow’s feet or jowls that need to be vanquished. Sure, there could be some zits and you want those to go bye-bye, but I don’t think a child needs to have the equivalent of a Magic Eraser used on their face. And seriously, no one has teeth the color of a virgin snowflake descending from the artic sky.

A senior portrait  should be capturing a moment in time, not a Vogue photo shoot. When I would go back to my parent’s house and see my framed senior picture hanging in the hallway it would always make me smile. I looked a little goofy. Eyebrows over tweezed, mortar board a tad askew and I was half laughing because as the photographer was taking the pictures the PE teacher was yelling at some boy for putting the gown on inside out.

Gorgeous no. 100% authentic – yes. Bonus my kids have enjoyed mocking that picture for years making it, most definitely, a priceless photograph.

7 thoughts on “I’m Having a Senior Moment

  1. Alyce says:

    It started with the push presents and now just goes on and on with every parent upping the ante that their progeny are perfect.

  2. camcoogan says:

    Oh my gosh, yes, yes! This is all so insane. The hundreds of dollars spent on grad photos is obscene. When are we going to rein it in and start using some common sense again?

  3. Kat says:

    On the subject of school photo’s my grand daughter’s high school hit’s us up twice during the year. The first time is a week into the new school year. These are photo’s to be used for their ID card for school events and oh by the way they are for sale as well if you want to buy them. You can’t just pick the few you want, some financial wizard has designed packages of photo’s you will never use or give away. I could paper a room with school photo’s that were part of the ‘deal’. We ordered the digital package so we could print off what we wanted. Last year we got a disk, this year we were told it would be a 2 week delay and we have to hunt for them on line at their studio…Used to be a teacher or photographer had help and handed out combs and helped the kids with their hair. Most of the photo’s of my grand daughter look like she has run laps and was pulled inside for the shoot…. The second set of pictures are the school pictures of the classes and then the individuals. They are a bit fancier and more pricey as well. Then you’re hit with the guilt trip of buying more pictures you don’t really need and how you might be passing up all these precious memories. What a racket! Then there’s the year books, which on average are costing just around $100.00 here. After graduation their main function is to weight something down until the glue dries or press flowers…It’s all so commercial now. They even have a line of clothes with the school’s logo and name for the whole family to wear just in case you forget where all your money is going…

  4. Cranky says:

    So little is private anymore (I.e., heavily staged proposals, staged pregnancy announcing, gender reveals requiring choreography and/or a party, promposal) and everything is treated like a really, really, big deal.

    Limousines for the 8th grade formal? Indeed…

  5. Donnadon says:

    I graduated in 1981 so I’m showing my age here but don’t really care. When I was in high school we had “Senior Pictures” done not graduation pictures. We were given two options. We could go to the photographers’ studio or have them done at the school at a pre-determined date and time. My mom made an appointment for me to go to the studio and was told I was allowed one outfit change. Several pictures were taken outside in his manicured garden and the rest done in the studio. They were very lovely. I believe I still have all of those proofs somewhere.

  6. Joanna says:

    Most amusingly, with all the touchups, the final picture may not resemble the student. We got a holiday card last year where at first glance I couldn’t figure out who the boy was. Soft focus, perfect hair, the whole works.
    I just hate that they also insist on so many effing photos. Lifetime stinks!

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