JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) - Formal studio shots are giving way to self-portraits and images snapped by friends as more high school students take advantage of digital technology to create their own senior portraits.
The photographs are traditionally taken in the summer before senior year begins.
Photographer Todd Olson has been shooting them for Janesville students for a decade. He told the Janesville Gazette more students have started taking their own pictures or having their friends take them as cameras and photo-editing software have become cheaper and easier to use.
"Kids are able to take photo editing classes in school now," Olson said.
The economy is another factor because studio portraits can be costly, he added.
Ed Stried, who retired after teaching and serving as the yearbook adviser at Craig High School for 30 years, saw the cost of professional senior photos rise from $100 to more than $1,000 for some studio packages during that time.
Kyle Forster, who graduated from Delavan-Darien High School last spring, took his own senior portrait with a camera on a timer and shot photos for about a dozen friends. Some of his classmates took their yearbook photos with cellphones.
With so many teens chronicling their lives through social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, senior photos and the yearbooks they fill may not be such a big deal, he said.
But Forster also said self-portraiture isn't for everyone. Some of the photographs lack quality.
Olson said it's easier to shoot good photos using natural light than studio lighting, and that's what most hobbyists do. Producing quality images with studio lighting takes practice and the right equipment.
Marco Valencia, who owns Valencia Photography in Janesville, has been taking photos since the 1970s but now sees many families who can't afford professional images. When they can, parents usually want traditional photographs, while teens prefer glamour shots or collages, he said.
"People do want collages," Olson agreed. "I believe it still starts with the photos, though. If you don't have good base photos . I don't think it's going to look nearly as good."
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