I hated my senior pictures, and I'll tell you why....
I grew up in a small town just far enough away from real civilization to realize that everything we thought was "cool" was about 5 years behind "cool" for the rest of even the Midwest. Don't even get me started on how far our fashion sense was behind someplace like California.
Despite my curly hair...and the fact that I graduated in the 2000s, nobody I knew had ever considered a crazy contraption like a flat iron. Everyone just used big curling irons to straighten their hair. When that didn't work (for straightening…the giant single curl 90s mall bang always looked awesome...or something) I gave up and chopped my hair off, not that I knew what I was doing with it even then.
Excusing the questionable fashion sense and hair style choices, I thankfully chose solid colors and classic black pants/blue jeans for all of my senior portraits. It was a Hail Mary pass in hopes I wouldn't look back some day and think "What the hell was I thinking?!"
As senior portrait season is in full swing, I found myself looking back at photos from my senior year musing on just such a question. Interestingly, the question wasn't about my fashion sense...that's just mostly kind of sad...
Let me give you a little idea of what I looked like when I was a senior in high school.
Okay. You've got a lot going on here and the picture isn't great (it certainly doesn't help that it was taken in a dark gymnasium). The hair leaves a lot to be desired...I barely wore makeup...this dress is stretch velvet (ouch!)...but overall, I look like I'm pretty happy to be where I am. This is a genuine smile.
Now, let's move forward to the day of my senior pictures. There were two photographers present who had never had ANY kind of interaction with me prior to that meeting. I hadn't brought any props of any kind and I was never asked about anything I was interested in. I'm sure the photographers made small talk but if pressed now, I'm certain I couldn't tell you a single thing we talked about beyond how cute my socks were when we did some of the photos inside.
Things didn’t start out all bad. The first photographer, as I recall, was pleasant enough…and then we switched. The second photographer was a nightmare. He took 2 or 3 pictures that I liked well enough I suppose, and then we began traipsing all about town on some whirlwind nightmare train of his favorite spots. Ugh.
Don’t get me wrong! Photographers have favorite spots for a reason. When you find a beautiful, quiet spot that could be anywhere USA, it should certainly be utilized. I’m sure that I, and every other photographer ever, has them; on the day of my senior pictures we went to every.single.one. of his.
My patience wore thin around spot three…
…and by spot five I’m pretty sure that I could have broken my teeth faking the smile. I know this. In fact, I remember with crystal clarity the photographer telling my boyfriend who’d come along “Look through this camera. Doesn’t she look beautiful?” His response, unusually astute, was “No. She looks pissed.”
Now, it’s not all the photographer’s fault. I could have said something. I could have told him I thought we were done or asked if we’d gotten what we needed. I could have spoken up for myself. Instead, I have a few really nice proofs (save fashion sense) from which we ordered photos, and a lot of “pretty pictures”. I have a book full of photos that are technically proficient with pretty, scenic backdrops that say nothing about who I was.
Here we are…back where this trip down memory lane started. Senior portrait season is in full swing, and I absolutely ADORE taking senior portraits. Seniors are almost as fun as babies (and a lot easier to pose ha ha). I suppose they’re kind of similar to babies too, in that they’re just starting off a new life in which they get to become more and more amazing.
For me, that’s the most important part of senior portraits…capturing these last moments of who someone is before they hit this awesome potential threshold and soar into the next chapter of their lives. That’s what makes me love this season and it’s why I offer senior portraits at no cost to seniors in the foster care system through our Foster Forward program. Seniors are living in a moment of potential that as long as they live, they’ll never get a chance to repeat.
So please seniors…when you’re having your photos taken…tell me about yourself! Share your passions and hopes for the future with me! Help me to capture who you are right now, today. Don’t hate your senior pictures. Speak up. Your pictures should be of YOU.
To schedule your senior portrait session today and have your prints back before yearbook photos are due, click HERE and choose "Senior Portraits" from the options below.