Joco Diversions

Grad portrait time? Let’s get real, people

Today’s once-simple senior portraits now involve complex photo shoots.
Today’s once-simple senior portraits now involve complex photo shoots. AP

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 mortarboard halfway 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 his 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 makeup, 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 suburban teens goes downtown on a regular basis and if they do it’s to a Lady Gaga concert at the Sprint Center, not to lean against an abandoned building while wearing heels and a romper.

I had a huge 1980s 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 kids’ 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 Photoshopped you, at first glance, do not recognize the child. First, what 17-year-old needs to be image-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.

A senior photo 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 senior portrait hanging in the hallway, it would always make me smile. I looked a little goofy.

Eyebrows over-tweezed, mortarboard 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 percent authentic, yes. Bonus my kids have enjoyed mocking that picture for years making it, most definitely, a priceless photograph.

Reach Sherry Kuehl at snarkyinthesuburbs@, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and