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Are grad photos really necessary?

By in Opinions

Opinions Writer

It has been four years. I’m graduating and I’ll have to get grad photos all over again — but I can’t help wondering why.

I can still vividly remember the week graduation photos took place in high school. Fabutan was booked up solid, and every girl was wandering around the hallways daydreaming about her upcoming glamour shots. Grad photos were going to finally reveal that you were the best-looking grad of 2007. You were no longer going to be “that girl who’s probably a lesbian,” but the girl who looks remarkably like Keira Knightley.

Too bad these dreams never become reality; instead everyone’s back-combed hair and faux hawks are forever immortalized and destined to become embarrassingly outdated. I am still haunted by the one lazy eye and unruly bangs from my high school grad photos.

Both the grad photo experience and the resulting photos are terrible. Is repeating the process for university necessary?

The grad photo experience is akin to having Montezuma’s revenge. When you first step into the small photography studio, you smell sweat and hairspray, a reminder of all the overheated and vain graduates that have suffered here before you. Then you get dressed into something so dated you’re sure that the last person to wear it owned slaves.

While you are in your outdated gown, a photographer seats you on a stool with a circumference half the size of your ass. Then the photographer, who both looks and sounds like she’s the host of some terrifying morning news show, begins cooing at you to “Smile, Princess!”

She tells you to turn your head right 45 degrees, while tilting it just slightly to the left, and to lift your chin. Your head is in the exact same position as when you attempted to fit into the trunk of your friend’s Mini Cooper.

Then you blink. Your photographer turns on you like Siegfried’s white tiger. “Open your eyes!” she screams at you, and finishes the last 10 photos with you looking afraid for your life. You soon learn that all grad photographers have O.J. Simpson’s level of tolerance. Unsuspecting students only need to blink once before grad photographers begin putting on their leather gloves and laying plastic sheets down in the back of their white Ford Broncos. The session ends, and you leave immediately.

When you finally get your proofs back you will invariably end up looking like either Clint Howard or that thing from The Goonies. You show the proofs to your parents, and they love them. It’s the first time they have seen you in a picture that doesn’t contain an alcoholic beverage. You’re looking pensive and scholarly, not drunk.

Your dad blows the worst photo up to the largest possible size and displays it in different locations around the house for the next week. Monday, your enlarged head is staring down at you from the top of the stairs. Tuesday, your head is a centerpiece for the dinner table and a coaster for the mashed potatoes. Wednesday, your head is watching everyone pee in the bathroom. Thursday, your dad wears your framed face around the house like a sandwich board advertisement. Friday, you watch yourself sleep from above your headboard. Saturday, your giant head welcomes all guests from a chair in the foyer. And Sunday, your head settles into its final resting place above the fireplace.
Your best friend ridicules you relentlessly about these events — until you find out her parents paid the extra $30 to get her face on a mouse pad.

This is the grad photo experience that happens to everyone. Grad photos are not worth all this mental anguish. The only reason grad photos are even considered necessary is because parents want to prove to others that their children have actually graduated. All parents have this innate desire to prove that their kids haven’t been dealing illicit drugs for the past four years. Well, parents, I think you got your fill of proud, drug-denying moments during our high school years. There is absolutely no reason for anyone’s uncomfortable expression to be immortalized in a two-by-three foot frame a second time.

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image: Rhiannon Boyle

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