Wednesday, September 3, 2014

let's talk about senior pictures.

Senior pictures are both a blessing and a curse. Most seniors are pretty ok with dressing up and having someone take artistic pictures of them – pictures that you then get to hand out to your friends and listen to them  gush about how great you look. The curse part comes decades later, when the clothing and the hair and the poses are all way out of date, and your once stunning senior pictures provide fodder for your kids to make fun of you.

My senior picture experience was a little different.

The summer of 2004 was the summer in between my junior and senior years of high school, and traditionally, that’s when you get your senior pictures taken. I, a rather ugly duckling at that point, was more or less indifferent as to who took my senior pictures. It was a necessary evil, and the only thing that really mattered to me was that I could have one senior picture in my Muppets t-shirt.
My mother – bless her heart – did her very best to convince me to put a little more effort into my impending senior pictures. She took me shopping for senior picture outfits and happily accompanied me to the photography studio (which was actually just our neighbor’s basement). 
We tramped through forests and weeds and went through at least six outfit changes, and Mom stuck with me through one dorky pose after another.

My senior pictures came back just as I was making the slow transition from girl-with-little-regard-for-makeup-and-fashion to girl-who-actually-cares-what-she-looks-like. It was early in my transformation (I was at the girl-who-is-attempting-eyeshadow-and-eyebrow-plucking stage), but even then, I could see what a hot mess I was just a few short months ago. And, even though my photographer was the nicest lady, posing seniors was just not her forte.
This happened.
Mom set up a one-outfit last-ditch photo session for me at an actual photography studio in Brookings. She did this with the hopes that I would actually do something with my hair, but as you can see, that didn’t exactly happen. I had just gotten this goofy shaggy haircut, and I thought it looked just fine. Yet another case of 20/20 hindsight.
It was better than that last group, but not by much.
A few months later, I was looking back at that picture with regret. It was around February 2005, and I had completed my transformation from ugly duckling to swan (or, at least a less ugly and better groomed duckling). Senior pictures had already been submitted, and I was kicking myself for being the girl with the Muppets getup. I hadn’t handed many of my senior pictures out, as some of them were almost too dorky to see the light of day. (It’s been ten years, and I’m still cringing.)
I mean, COME ON,
By this point, I had been carrying a disposable camera with me at all times for at least a year and a half. I had taken some artsy (or so we thought) pictures of Bob, and we always had fun doing it. I don’t remember who had the bright idea, but we thought it would be hilarious to take some faux senior pictures of me looking all serious with my clarinet. Everyone knows that senior pictures with band instruments tend to be the most ridiculous, and we figured that’s what the outcome would be – but since they’d be intentionally ridiculous, they would become awesome by default.

One frigid February day, Bob came over to my house and picked out my senior picture wardrobe. I’d spent most of the morning curling my stupid hair, and I’d be damned if I’d let the snow and cold stop us from taking pictures. We took pictures all around the house and even ventured into the snowy South Dakota tundra.

When the pictures came back from the developer – yes, they were on film – we were downright impressed. These jokey clarinet pictures were by far the best of my senior pictures! I quickly had them made into wallet prints and distributed them to my friends. These pictures were the ones that I placed in my graduation invitations, and these were the pictures on display at my graduation party.

These senior pictures opened the door to two entire summers filled with photo shoots. Bob and I spent every nice day and almost every spare moment with our photo shoots (stay tuned for that story). But it all began with my clarinet senior pictures.


  1. I think my favorite one is you in pink clutching to your clarinet. There's an intensity in your eyes that tells a story of desperation and I believe the narrative is something like... This girl has given everything away for her drug addiction, but she REFUSES to give up her clarinet! I can't wait until we're senior citizens and we can do this all over again! Those pictures will be incredible... I also cannot wait to read your blogpost covering our many photo shoots.... That'll be a lengthy one. Remember when we took head shots for our "movie?" So good.

    1. Hahaha! That picture should be a PSA! "My clarinet saved me from my addiction." "Music: it's my drug of choice." Oh, the possibilities!

      The photo shoot blog is for next week, so you don't have to wait long! It's hard to believe our modeling careers didn't take off after all those glorious head shots. : )