I’m warning you upfront. This is gonna be bad.
I am writing this both as a mother, and then I’ll follow up with my ‘professional photographer’ critiques. A few months ago in the fall, my daughter’s school sent home a note letting parents know that picture day was approaching. We had a whole evening of picking out her clothes, belt, shoes, hair do…you know, the works. After all, this photo will be looked at by her kids someday, right? She had on a pretty dress, and a big flower barrette that matched. Before the bus picked her up that morning, we practiced her smile, and I reminded her to do her real smile instead of her fake smile. After school that day, I asked her how her picture day went and she said, “Good, except I forgot to take off my coat.”
What?? How does that even happen? Photographer fail #1. Remember back in the day when the photographer’s helper was in charge of straightening clothes, making sure their bangs were in the proper place? Apparently school photographers are lacking in this area nowadays. So now I’m faced with the decision of retaking the portraits myself, or bailing out the money to the crappy photographer. Doesn’t sound like a hard decision, right? I’m a photographer, its easy for me to retake the pictures. However, a part of me kept telling myself “Heather, just pay for the pictures, crappy school pictures are just part of growing up.” I decided to just buy the photo cd for $35, and I still have not printed that picture. Because ITS CRAPPY!
Why are we wasting money and feeling obligated to buy these? More importantly, why does nobody bring this up to the school? Are there no other photographers in Oklahoma that offer school portraits? Maybe the schools have no other option.
Well, I found out that’s a bunch of bull.
Shortly after that, I started researching it. Why are no other photographers being used for school portraits? It was just one company in contract with nearly EVERY school in the state. I got serious about my approaching the schools offering my portrait services: put together packets/samples for schools to look through and what I could offer them. I went to 12 schools in the area!! And not one of them even considered switching. ”We already go with ******.”
Oh, really? Well perhaps next year you will consider me? After all, in addition to submitting better poses, more background options, multiple proofs/poses of each child, I informed them my school donation of all profits was 20%, rather than 15% like the other photographer. In business terms: better photos + more poses= greater chance for parents loving the pictures. That also means more sales, which for the school, would mean a much greater donation from the photographer. There should have been no reason NOT to change photographers. I don’t even care if I’m the photographer or not…I know TONS of great photographers in Yukon, Mustang, OKC, Edmond, Tuttle, and Enid. Unacceptable.
The first pic is obviously a throw away. Should not even be sent out to parents and count toward a proof. The second photo really upsets me. You do not pose a 6 yr old first grader in a pose like this. The head tilt at this much of an angle is completely inappropriate. Its suggestive…and she’s 6. These are not poses for elementary students!! And as a photographer, if a child at this age naturally tilts her head like that, it should be corrected and reposed. That’s right, photographers, pose your clients! They have no idea how to properly pose themselves…they are not trained to see that! Photographers are.
Finally, what the heck happened to person-to-person interaction and creating an experience during portraits?? This is a prime example of a shoot & burn photographer. Gets the shoot done as fast as they can, with as little interaction and editing as possible, so they can get paid faster. Does anyone have a child that actually showed their REAL smile in their portraits? I bet 90% didn’t. Because there was no interaction and it wasnt a portrait experience for the child! Look at the dang green screen….how can a child have a real smile when they’re not talked to and are standing in front of a plain green background like that?
“Smile! Even though you have no idea what your digital background is gonna look like when I crop you out of the photo to insert you into a new background!” Ugh.
Does it take too much time to actually talk and smile to the kid youre taking a picture of? Make them feel pretty and actually pose them and compliment them? Well I guarantee parents would be wayyyyy happier with the photos if their child smiled naturally and felt special that day. Can you even compare the experience/photos above to the sample photos below I sent to these schools? Um, nope.
Why do schools keep the huge photography company that is halfway doing their job? Do they not know there are other choices? Are they scared of change? Whatever the reason, I’m not spending another dime on crappy pictures that aren’t worth my money. My kids deserve a better experience than that. If you feel the same way about your child’s photos, let it be known. Maybe the schools don’t even know parents arent happy with the photographer. If this is you, I’ve ‘conveniently’ attached a form to send in to your child’s school. Maybe they’ll realize they should request feedback from parents every once in a while!
There. Glad I got that out of my system. Now off to the newspaper for a letter to the editor. ha.