Given the fact that the Freshman Register is one of the few times students will get to choose a photo to represent themselves to their class—unlike the Harvard ID pic, which one can only hope isn’t too hideous—the occasional prison-quality mug-shot is all the more surprising. Sometimes it’s a cultural thing. Astha Thapa ’07 explains that “in Nepal, we aren’t allowed to smile for passport photos; I’ve been told I look like a terrorist in mine.” Other times, you simply get what you pay for—like the case of Werner H. Van Vuuren ’07, who had his less-than-flattering facebook picture taken at a pharmacy.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jacquelyn Chou ’07 paid $300 for a three-hour photo shoot involving multiple costume changes. The expense was well worth it, Chou says, since “the pictures came in handy for my California Junior Miss application.’’ Chou placed third in the contest. All told, she is certain that she spent “significantly less” on her senior pictures than most of her classmates back home in southern California. David A. Martin ’07, whose perfectly touched-up senior pictures cost $250 (“I have one of me sitting by a haystack”), agrees.
Not everyone has to pay through the nose for glamour shots, though—at least one first-year who wishes to remain unnamed had her studio shots done for free, one of the perks of being crowned her hometown’s Miss Chinatown 2002.
Many first-years sent in their high school senior pictures, which are often reminiscent of modeling head shots. Joshua P. Rogers ’07 says he was given very detailed instructions on what to wear and how to be “done up” for the yearbook photo shoot at a nearby garden. “It’s the middle of August, and I’m wearing a dark wool sweater,’’ he recalls. When asked, Rogers admits he can’t rule out the prospect of airbrushing. Meanwhile, Vinita M. Alexander ’07 says that at her high school, prom gear is the dress code for the senior photo shoot.
Some students deliberately choose not to send in a picture. “Those pictures always make people look really good or really bad. Either way, they’re all lies,” says Nicholas A. Molina ’07. Echoing this sentiment, Genevieve A. Uzamere ’07 points out that “it’s hard to capture a person in a picture.” In the end, however, Uzamere did send in a professionally-taken portrait of herself in a pin-striped suit. “I didn’t want to be represented by a sketch,” she says.