At this moment, seniors across campus are awaiting the most dreaded moment of their college careers. It doesn’t have anything to do with applying to or hearing back from graduate schools. It has nothing to do with job searches and securing a dream job. It’s not even the process of figuring out where to live next.
I’m talking about senior portraits.
If you’re anything like me, you’re far more comfortable behind the scenes than in the spotlight, but senior portraits take every ounce of this inclination and smash it to pieces. For some of us, portraits are laborious. An hour of sitting and posing just doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Staring into a lens feels a lot like searching for someone in a sinkhole and hands are awkward things that don’t always know where to go.
This year, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking back to high school when I faced the same problem of having portraits taken before graduation. I fought my mom on it right up until I was sitting in the park in front of a camera with a giant white reflector redirecting light onto my face.
Although it still makes me cringe when I think about it, I’m glad I took the photos. I’m still not fond of the process, but I’m thankful to have done it, not for myself, but for my parents.
I try to image what it’s like to have a kid. I imagine it’s a weird thing to observe a human who’s half you for 18 years before they leave for college. I imagine it’s kind of sad for time to pass and for that human to no longer spend as much time at home with you as they did when they were small. I imagine things like senior portraits are great reminders of all the wonderful things your human has accomplished.
Senior portraits really aren’t for us. They’re for the people in our lives who have helped us up to the heights we’ve achieved thus far. They’re for our parents and grandparents and father-figures and aunts and guardians and mentors and all the other people who like our faces and want to see them succeed.
In another 20 years, you’ll probably be glad to have taken senior portraits. It’ll be a cool way to show your own children what academic achievements look like. By this time, you’ll probably even be inclined to push them to take senior portraits of their own.
If you’re unsure about getting good pictures, consider having your photos taken by a professional with experience in senior portrait photography. They’ll be familiar with what poses are flattering and interesting, and you’re more likely to get a high-quality product you can be proud of.
I really don’t want to take senior portraits this year, but I’m going to do it anyway. You should, too. Your mom will be happy you did.
Besides, an hour of bottomless lenses and weird hands won’t kill us.
Rae Jefferson is a senior journalism major from Houston. She is copy desk chief for the Lariat.