The world of senior photography seems to primarily celebrate girls and cliché versions of boys in letter jackets and fast cars. As the parent of two boys and the senior photographer of many more, I say that is such an unfair and imbalanced look at senior photography. What about the photos of the artistic, observant, intellectual, passionate, geeky, silly, pimpled, hirsute, ordinary, extraordinary young men who are deep and interesting and beautiful, if you’ll allow me that word for the young gentlemen? Their amazing faces and talents and souls deserve to be documented just as much as young women and jocks.
Here in Denver, and around Colorado, senior photos are a right of passage. It’s an important way we mark the passing from childhood to adulthood. Both young men and young women want the senior photo experience – it’s a time-honored tradition and a ritual of growing up. And be honest, most parents had some version of the senior photo experience themselves. Rather than suggesting that senior portraiture is a thing for girls, I want to celebrate that time when young men are almost at their finest, their strongest, before the physical and figurative lines and crevices of adulthood begin to remove the last traces of innocence on young faces.
We need to talk to our kids, our sons, about why senior photos are so important to us and to them. Be honest, share with them that we, as parents, want to hold onto their youth, their childhood, even as we support them in their transition to adulthood. Their senior photos mark the end of an era, the end of school pictures, the end of us documenting every last thing they do. Senior photos are the celebration of our kids’ youth but also of the end of childhood. Their senior photos will not be the ugly, blue background photos of elementary school or the school ID mugshot, they’re an artistic portrait of a Young Adult – a representation of a person and a personality.
When I hear parents wrestling with the idea of spending the money on their son’s senior photo experience, I am always surprised when they want just a quick photo for the yearbook. So many parents wouldn’t think twice about investing in a portrait experience for their daughters, yet with sons it’s often described as a matter of expediency and ease. A quick photo for the yearbook can be done easily, but a portrait session is about having all the attention on you, allowing your son enough time with his portrait artist to capture his essence, to tell his personal and unique story. Senior photography is when we honor a kid in a very individualized event, and celebrate him with portraits we will keep and share forever. I urge parents not to overlook this special moment for your sons, and this special gift for yourself that you will cherish forever.