Are these the most bizarre high school portraits ever?

Mike Winland's wild take on the traditional senior portrait is more Photoshopped than most. 


Fernando Alfonso III


Published Nov 19, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 7:05 am CDT

Lights, camera, boring backdrop—does any high school student actually look forward to school picture day? It’s the same routine every time. That is unless it’s taken by Mike Winland, a photographer who turns your portrait into a adventurous scene straight out of The Neverending Story.

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Winland’s quirky photographs were the subject of a popular Reddit post Sunday, where more than 150 people criticized one of his photos featuring a giraffe-spotted woman posing with a giraffe.

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“Horrendous? or awesome?” OnlyToolsHateJules commented.

“This is one of the more rad senior photos I’ve ever seen and I’m jealous that mine weren’t this cool. ಠ_ಠ,” Samespbn23 added.

Winland is a self-taught photographer from Charleston, W.Va., who, despite the outlandish look of some of his high school portraits, has a large professional portfolio that includes beautiful wedding photos and baby portraits. The reasoning behind the heavily Photoshopped high school photos is to make the students happy, even if that means making them look like an extra in a cheesy fantasy movie.

“The giraffe is from the wilds in Ohio. The girl was a senior in High School last year. She loves giraffes and she loved the picture. It was created for fun and meant to be sorta funny,” Winland wrote. “I do take many normal looking beautiful portraits and have never had a client unhappy with the results of their session but I also enjoy creating crazy bizarre looking pictures, It’s ok if don’t have to like them, they are not for you and they are not for everyone.”

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Update: Contrary to our initial report, Winland is actually a professional photographer. Per his request, the original Reddit post has been deleted. The Daily Dot has also removed his images from this story. 

Screengrab via Reddit

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*First Published: Nov 19, 2012, 10:10 pm CST