04/05/2012 12:59 am ET Updated Apr 05, 2012

'Prom' by Mary Ellen Mark: 8 Images From Documentary Photographer's New Book

As every teen movie ever made will tell you, prom isn't just a dance. It's a cultural tradition and a rite of passage for every American teenager. It's achieved near-mythological status as the "biggest night" of a high school senior's life.

A new photography book, Prom by Mary Ellen Mark, documents the senior-year ritual in stunning detail. Mark's vivid black-and-white prints celebrate the great variety and individuality of high school students through a study of prom-goers and their dates. Prom immortalizes moments and tells a story through poses, clothing, body language, expressions and hairstyles. Featuring same-sex couples, prom queens, nerds, pregnant teens, and students with daring fashion senses, Mark's photos capture the diversity of high school life and paint a portrait of contemporary American youth writ large.

Check out a selection of images from Prom in the below slideshow.

Are you excited for prom? Or if you've already graduated, do you still have your prom photos? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet your #PromPics @HuffPostTeen!