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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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These are not your mother’s senior pictures


Sabrina Mallah, who will graduate from Central Valley High School next year shows two different nontraditional looks in her senior photos. 
 (Courtesy of Quicksilver Studios / The Spokesman-Review)
Sabrina Mallah, who will graduate from Central Valley High School next year shows two different nontraditional looks in her senior photos. (Courtesy of Quicksilver Studios / The Spokesman-Review)

When Sabrina Mallah thumbs through her mom’s 1982 Wallace High School yearbook, she sees pictures of students with big, cheesy smiles, lots of hair and thick glasses.

“It’s funny,” said Mallah, who will be a senior at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley in the fall. “Everybody looks the same.”

When Mallah examines her senior pictures, she sees a sweet-looking schoolgirl, dressed in an argyle sweater vest and pleated shirt; a tough-looking soccer goalkeeper putting on her best snarl; and a sophisticated-looking teenager, wearing a killer black halter dress and black heels.

“I love my pictures,” said Mallah, clutching her leather-bound Quicksilver Studios portfolio that holds about a dozen of the photographs she’ll choose from.

Enter the glossy world of senior pictures, where “Say cheese” frozen poses have been replaced by bold and beautiful glossies. The evolution, say area local portrait photographers, began rearing its mousse-laden head around the early 1980s. Digital photography has moved the process forward.

“It was the kids who made it change … the demand as a buyer who wants something different and more personal,” said Myron Bursell, co-owner of Green Gables Photography, 727 W. Francis Ave.

While the photos that students submit for their yearbooks meet traditional requirements, it’s the photos displayed on fireplace mantels that are heating up family rooms.

Bursell said two years ago, a Lakeside High School student was having his picture taken with his dirt bike. His mom was at the shoot.

“His mom said ‘Take off your shirt,’ ” Bursell said.

“So he said, ‘OK,’ and takes off his shirt. Most guys are oblivious to stuff like that.”

Bursell photographed close-ups of the student, leaning back on the seat of his bike, arms folded, biceps bulging.

Nothing suggestive, said Bursell, who has been a professional photographer for 29 years. The photo won a Wedding & Portrait Photographers International award.

Nick Follger, longtime owner of Nick Follger Master Photographer, 2728 E. 31st Ave., said it’s not uncommon for students to choose two different shoots. First, a girl might come in with spiked, dyed hair and dramatic makeup. At the next appointment, she’ll show up with natural-colored hair and soft makeup – a real parent pleaser.

“In the last five years, we have much more extreme expressions. Some are going very, very, very sensual, especially on the girls,” Follger said. “We try to hold the line so the dads of the girls are not saying, ‘My God, what are you doing with my daughter?’ It’s a tightrope to walk.”

Quicksilver Studios, 319 Front Ave. in Coeur d’Alene, prides itself on its cutting-edge magazine-style photographs.

For an extra $30, girls can book sessions with makeup artist Leah Bright, who airbrushes foundation on their faces and creates the look of a fashion model. If a student is going after the wet look, he or she will be sprayed with baby oil, creating a bronzelike finish. Alley shots are done nearby. Lakeside shots are taken in downtown Coeur d’Alene at Tubbs Hill.

Because there are more than 60 photographers listed in the phonebook, Quicksilver takes an aggressive approach in recruiting clients. It selects student models and student representatives, who are rewarded with price discounts.

“They bust the doors down to be a senior model,” said Bright, also an accomplished photographer.

Mallah, with her striking good looks and size 4 body, was selected as one of two student models from CV. Over the past several months, she has posed for hours and said she has about three more hours to go before her portfolio is complete.

Brett Schneider, manager at Quicksilver Studios, is one of three senior photo shooters and is working with Mallah.

“For the most part, Spokane is pretty progressive,” Schneider said. “Where the typical photo session was 45 minutes with three outfits at the most – and obviously, we still have that – now, you can have three and a half to four hours worth of photos in unlimited outfits on two or three different days by the time you’re done.”

Costs at various studios can range anywhere from $200 to $750, depending on the bells and whistles.

Schneider said on several occasions, parents sit in at the shoots. On one recent morning, Diane Hinze dropped by the studio to pick up the photos of her daughter, Bridget Hinze. She said she liked the finished product.

“I enjoy the pictures of my daughter. They’re tasteful,” Hinze said. “The younger generation is so used to looking at modeling photos instead of normal pictures that look like you.”

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