Senior picture traditions evolve each decade


Photo by Grace Montgomery

Grace Montgomery


The entrance of the school is covered with senior class composite photos starting in 1929 until the present. A quick glance at the photos shows that each decade of seniors has a common trend.

During the 60s senior photos were black and white, featuring collared shirts and formal poses, according to Mrs. Beth Gwynn, who advised the yearbook for 35 years.

Mrs. Helwig, who graduated from the high school in 1968, said that everyone had the same photographer.

“It was just like school picture day,” she said. “It was $5 a sitting to get into the yearbook. If you wanted your pictures done elsewhere you could do that.”

Helwig also noted that at the high school only seniors could get individual pictures. Freshmen and sophomores had their pictures taken as a homeroom. Juniors were photographed in a casual group of 4 or 5 people.

The 70s were the era of sweaters, collared shirts and blouses for the girls, Gwynn said. Suits, or sports coats were the norm for the guys.

[tribulant_slideshow gallery_id=”5″]

Mrs. Gwynn said the 80s brought about the most change. Special effects were introduced. Kids would add different props to their photos such as sports equipment or trees. One student posed with a rocking horse and another student with their cat.

“Kids at this time could go anywhere and do anything with their pictures as long as two photos were sent in by Thanksgiving to the yearbook,” she said.

Mrs. Gwynn remarked that at this time, due to the increased diversity in the senior’s photos, there were attempts to regulate backgrounds and head sizes.

“Some of the photos would be too large, and people appeared pixilated if you shrunk them,” she said. “We wanted the layout to look nice and the class to look like a class, and not just a competition for the most unique photo.”

In the 90s more poses were offered, Gwynn said. People would change clothes and have 30 poses or so to choose for their families.

The 2000s were the beginning of the digital photos as well as the start of non-professional photographers providing the pictures.

Mrs. Gardner, who graduated from the school in 2003, said she did not do anything like the elaborate packages people do now.

“I changed into a couple of different outfits, and had a couple of different colored backgrounds,” Gardner said. “It was only about an hour in a studio.”

The senior pictures of the 2010s have gotten more casual.

“Today’s senior pictures are less traditional and less formal,” Liz Argyle, of Argyle photography, commented. “More students are interested in doing sessions outdoors and in urban settings.”

Some do not care for this new trend.

“When I look at the composites today, too many are just too casual,” Helwig said. “ I am seeing t-shirts and Hawaiian shirts. Guys should be wearing a shirt and tie and girls should have on a nice dress.”

There is also disagreement to today’s prices and overall photo process.

“It is unbelievable,” Helwig said. “My cousin was a football player, in the volunteer fire department and had a girlfriend. He took pictures in his fireman uniform, football uniform, with his girlfriend and by himself. One day’s worth of pictures where he looks the same is crazy. She probably paid around $600.”

Gardner was similarly perplexed by today’s photo shoots.

“I think there is a little narcissism happening,” she said. “People are obsessed with seeing themselves in pictures. With social media and selfies, it can be a little much. It can be fun, but it is a little much. I just think that, yes, you are a senior and are graduating. It is okay not to have a picture of every possible hairstyle. I think people need to keep a little perspective.”