But Everyone Looks Awful in Their Senior Pictures, Right?

Filed under narcissism, no i really do love ohio

My mom died of brain cancer my senior year of high school, and since she was a teacher at my school, the principal gave me a sorry-your-life-is-ruined gift of a senior photo package worth some hundreds of dollars. It was a pretty cool present, I thought, since I’m generally narcissistic and loved the idea of having my picture taken over and over again in several different outfits by a willing photographer rather than my not-easily-coerced, annoyed-by-my-pestering-whenever-we-went-anywhere friends.

The photographer was a lanky guy named Scott who was so typical of all the now-thirtysomethings who had graduated from my high school: black mullet, tapered black jeans, tucked-in cheap flannel shirt, black sneakers, giant aviator wire-framed glasses. You know, your basic child molester ensemble. He was nice enough and made polite conversation with the friends who came with me for my shoot, but I think he thought he was shooting for Playboy or something. I of course brought several sweaters to change into, because his props included things like wagon wheels and hay bales, which was fine with me, because I’m straight offa the farm. But he kept telling me to “change into something slinky”, as if I had brought along my littlest black dress to lounge around in on the unfinished wood floor. And then he kept telling me to not smile and to try to look sexy, which was pretty hilarious what with my wearing patterned sweaters and faded jeans and all. At one point, he positioned me in this fake doorway covered with stucco that was supposed to be reminiscent of Mexico (because every Ohio teenager dreams of being Mexican?) with one hand on one side of the arch and the other hand on the other side and told me to look “dark”. And by that, I’m pretty sure he meant “less-clothed”.

The great thing is that my good friend Sheena, who also had her senior photos taken by Scott, really did bring slinky dresses to her shoot. That tramp.

And the even greater thing is that in the set of photos that my dad loved most and wanted to have blown up to astronomical proportions for everyone in my family to display on their fireplace mantles, I had this stray curl sticking out on one side of my head very obviously. When we looked over the proofs with Scott, he told us he could alter the photo to make it look natural, and we agreed to it. Now, in these days of Photoshop whizzes, that would be an easy feat, but this was Ohio in the year 2000, when my family and Tracey’s were the only ones in the whole county to own computers.

So when the pictures came back, poster-sized to outdo all of my cousin’s photos in my grandmother’s living room, one side of my head looked normal and the other side had an extra inch of afro-like curls DRAWN IN with a black marker. It doesn’t in any way resemble the rest of my hair, and you can pick out each of the swirly marker lines very distinctly.

But hey, they were free.


  1. Serial says:

    C’mon, we need to see this.

    • You know I’d link to the full 11″x16″ print if I could and probably use it as my icon in every comment I post here from now on, but they’re sadly alllllll the way back at home in Ohio, where people–especially my parents–haven’t even heard of a scanner, let alone own one.

  2. Clockwatcher says:

    No seriously, what kind of a teaser is this?

    • You have no idea how excited I was to figure out who you are. I was like, “Okay, there’s a link to Paige’s blog in the sidebar, and she mentions Ohio in one post, and she lists great books in her profile (except for Oscar Wao, which I unfortunately didn’t enjoy) . . .” And then it hit me. You’re in my Google Reader now hooray!

      Next time you’re back home, you should look up my Dad in Ashville, and I’m sure he’ll loooooove to show you all my senior photos. And baby photos. And everything in between.

      • Karinya says:

        I love you just a little more now – you are the first person I know (well, kind of know) who admits to not liking OSCAR WAO. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t do much for me, and I forgot about it halfway through. Maybe we are too midwestern for Junot Diaz?

        Semi-related side note, he came to visit/talk with my MFA program last year, and the way some of my classmates were fawning all over him was priceless. Everyone wanted to go rub against him out behind the poetry center, even the dudes.

        • Yes! I love you just a little more now, too. And it’s funny, because I make fun of one of my friends for reading nothing but Harry Potter and Da Vinci Code-type books, so she picked up Oscar Wao the other day to impress me without having any idea that I hate it so much. And she hated it, too! You two make me feel so vindicated. And then the next day, one of my co-workers was talking books with me, and he said, “I’m interested in reading Pulitzer winner Oscar Wao,” and I was like, “Do not pretend like there’s a chance I haven’t read what won the Pulitzer, asshole!” Gah.

          It must be so hard to be a critic, though. I understand that one person says it’s so great, and everyone else has to agree so as to not appear to not “get” it. I hope that you were the one person in the back yawning through his entire talk.

  3. Laura says:

    Wow. My senior pics had hay bales and wagon wheels and a fake white doorway too. Maybe we had the same photographer. He only worked the farmgirl circuit.

    • Everyone knows that farmgirls are fertile and easily taken advantage of. I’d especially love to see your photos, assuming that even back in high school, you had a whole lotta cleavage that all the girls envied.

  4. kylie says:

    this whole post, and you couldn’t even bother to scan in a couple of the photos? what is the point of reading something if there aren’t pictures or illustrations attached?!

    • Clearly, you have two options here:

      1) Swing by my parents’ house in Ashville next time you’re on your way to Columbus.

      2) Photoshop a current picture of me to make it look like the year 2000, which sounds oddly futuristic.

  5. Tracey says:

    Wait a minute. You took “friends” with you to your senior pictures shoot? Where was I?!

    It’s amazing how much your description of Scott is almost perfectly in line with how I remember the guy who took my senior pictures, except my guy had blond hair and no glasses. Maybe that’s just how all photographers in Pickaway County were?

    Wasn’t Scott also the name of the guy who cut your hair in high school? I sort of remember you being in love with him.

    • Okay, fine, I really meant Mike and Joanie. And you know, when I wrote that yesterday, I was like, “I took Mike instead of Tracey? What the hell?” That seems retarded, looking back.

      That’s how EVERYONE in Pickaway County is.

      It’s funny you bring him up, because I was just talking about Scott the Hairdresser with Kamran the other day and how hot and in love with me I thought he was when he was no doubt gay. He used to give me “The Allison Chandler”, which was the name of one of my mom’s students; she thought the cut was so great that she asked Allison who her hairdresser was, and that’s how we found Scott.

      Also, I love the word hairdresser and what it implies.

  6. Karinya says:

    Half of mine had my horse in them, and half of them had me suggestively posing/squatting in a field. Fo’ reals.


    • Mine are stuck in Ohio with my parents, but the better question is: where are YOURS?! Suggestively squatting? Sign me up.

      I was always jealous of people like you who got to pose outdoor with pets. I had a few unphotogenic cats and a mangy farmdog that you could smell from ten miles away.

  7. Erin says:

    I had my pictures taken in FRANKLIN COUNTY in GROVE CITY by a LADY.

    Yet, I believe all mine were about the same. Stucco arch and all.

    • Isn’t that depressing? When I start my own central Ohio senior photography business, I’m going to have all sorts of exciting backgrounds like camels in the Sahara and tents in the Arctic tundra with props like giant crayons and live bunnies.

      Also, where is YOUR blog, lady? I visited mannequinhands.com, but there ain’t nothin’ there.

      • Erin says:

        Arctic tundra. Mmmm, that’s a delicious phrase to say. Oh, and the old mannequinhands.com? It’s undergoing a revamp. I decided that the old crap from 2003 that ended up turning half the people I knew into a horde of enemies could maybe come down for now.

        Besides, I promised you the ultra-personal lesbian blog! Lesbians FTW!

        • It’s weird how when we were kids, everyone just said “artic”. And “antartica”. Little did we know what we were missing out on.

          Mannequin Hands is totally the best name for a lesbian blog. I’m primed.

  8. spaghedeity says:

    And hey, you wouldn’t be writing this entry had it not happened. Thank Scott for adding a story to your life.

  9. Tessa says:

    For my senior pictures (just for the yearbook in the black, not anything fancy with hay bales or stucco or any o’ that), the photographer took over 40 shots.

    I blinked in all but TWO of them — neither with a smile.

    And people wonder why I’m now obsessed with self portraits, timers, and lighting…

    • Black and white senior pictures are sooooo romantic. I hope you wore dark red lipstick and looked very 1920s. Except that you probably had green hair or something that the photographer couldn’t help Photoshopping in in color.

      40 blinking photos, though? That seems like a feat. And hey, a yearbook photo with your eyes closed might be lovely. And I’m sure the guy wasn’t annoyed about the many shots, either, since I’m sure you’re a delight to photograph, what with your pretty lip-pursing and all.

  10. Oh, that is equal parts hilarious and terrible! I want to see proof of these drawn in curls!
    My senior photos made me look even younger than I usually do…but the parents loved them (what else is new?).
    Oh and the necklace has been getting a lot of attention lately. It’s from Leviticus Jewelry and I just did a whole post on their site if you are still interested…

  11. shawn says:

    ohhh please show us the hand-drawn curls? senior pictures are completely awful and i wish i could find a place to duplicate them, I would buy all my friends “packages”!

  12. Nicole M says:

    Oh! 1st off, I can’t believe our principal did that. A cool gift, yes. But that isn’t quite the thing I’d give someone who just lost their mother…but it is Ashville.

    2nd…I think you just described what every Senior went through in Pickaway County regardless of who took the pictures! :) I cringe when I look at my pictures because of the eyeglasses that took up 1/2 my face.

    Our Senior year yearbook pictures were horrible.
    “Put your right hand on the hip, turn your lower body to the left and your upper body to the right, tilt your chin up and to the right…hold and smile!”
    He was beyond horrible as a yearbook photographer.