Recently, a small flyer came home in my child’s folder. It said, “Picture day is coming.”
I remarked to Leon, “I’ll bet most parents don’t read that as a warning.” But honestly, I know enough of you do.
I vaguely remember picture day. They’d line us up, give us a small black comb. (Where are those combs? Why do they seemingly no longer hand them out and ask children to comb their hair? And why do these pictures cost so much if we don’t get a free comb?) It was kind of scary. They’d contort us around until we felt terrible and then would snap a photo. Sometimes you’d get yours, and your eyes would be closed, or you’d have a terrible look on your face.
So here’s the thing. Photography is digital now. I have at least 1,000 photos on my phone at any given time, often in sets of 10 of the same thing. Retakes. You know, because only 1/10 of photos turn out OK. It’s marvelous, because I can have someone snap a photo of that precious time I spent with my friend–and if it’s horrible, we can delete it and retake it on the spot.
So WHY do school photos still look like this?? Why does it look like they were using the kind of cameras where you have to reload the gun powder or whatever and you really only got one shot? Why do I get photos of my kids looking like giant morons? Or the surly little people they occasionally are? Why don’t they look like delightful cherubs? The company offers you retakes, but I’ve got an idea, guys. How about YOU RETAKE THE AWFUL PHOTO ON THE SPOT AND DON’T PUBLISH THIS ONE OF MY KID? (And don’t put them in the yearbook looking like this?) And can somebody please do something about the backgrounds? Could there be nice and natural but flattering backgrounds in this lovely modern age?
I have felt better lately now that each one of my children has at least one frightful photo. I have remembered that these school ones are funny and cute, and that they are not going to be like the ones you pay $300 for, where you expect your family to look above average. These are the ones we will laugh about together in 30 years, and which I will threaten to show at their weddings.*
This one was actually a really cute photo–but why the background?
A pleasant school day in the forest
OK, I’ll admit. I just added this one because it makes me want to die of cute squishiness.
But really, my children are attractive people, and many cute, funny, and lovely photos exist of them. So why do these professionally taken school photos look like this?
Some friends have been kind enough to share their own comical school photos with me, and these all support my questions. First, the ones from the old days, when cameras used film and school children may well have been less attractive, thanks to universal home haircuts and the clothing they put us in in the 1970s and 8os.
But these? Here are some modern-day photos that basically…look the same. Or maybe even worse. I know all of these children, and they are adorable, and I’ve seen lovely and artful photos of them. Photos with no disembodied hands in them, photos in which the children are smiling and look like themselves. Photos with no mattresses or mirrors in the background.
So there, there you have it. These aren’t even that bad, compared to many. (If you have one you’d like to throw into the ring, feel free to post it on my Facebook page or email it to laura at laurameehan dot com.)
*I cannot show them before their weddings, in case their spouses-to-be decide that they should not have wedding photos with someone who looks like this in photos.
Happy New Year.