SALEM, N.Y. (WTEN) — It may look like your typical end of the year class photo, but this group picture is truly unique in that it wasn’t taken as a group at all.
“Missing out on a lot of things this year, we were actually fearful we would miss out on our class photo as well,” said Jocelyn Keys.
But the pandemic could not cancel a class photo for Keys or her fellow 2020 graduates at Salem Washington Academy in Salem, New York.
It’s all thanks to retired Salem teacher and longtime school photographer Tom McMorris.
“Ever since I started doing digital, it seems like there’s always somebody who they can’t make it that day, so I put them in. I thought, ‘You know. We could probably do this,'” he said.
Using social distancing, a green-screen and digital photography, McMorris snapped individual photos of Salem’s 39 grads and even included the pictures of three foreign exchange students who had to return home when schools moved to remote learning.
He then superimposed the photos onto an exterior shot of the school and empty risers.
The end result: A beautiful class photo.
“What are you hoping that these students will carry with them when they look back at this 15, 20 years from now and see this photo?” asked NEWS10 ABC’s Anya Tucker.
“Well, I think they are going to have a lot of emotions about it because they missed out on a lot of things,” McMorris replied. “But they can also hold up this picture and say, ‘This was special.’”
“We will look back on this picture, like, they might forget it, but we won’t forget it,” Keys said of the photo.
McMorris used the same technique to created a class photo for graduates in the neighboring town of Granville. Again, another “picture perfect” picture.
“I think a lot of us seniors were really appreciative that Mr. McMorris was really able to think outside of the box and put so much time and effort into making it happen for us,” Keys said
And it’s the kind of photo that will no doubt hold special meaning for the Class of 2020 long after 2020.
The photos and the story was also shared on ABC’s Good Morning America with tens of thousands of views online.