Dear Mr. Photographer –
When I pay $60, I expect to get a picture I don’t have to hide in a closet and tell all the grandparents that we accidentally forgot to take school photos this year. You pay that kind of money at a portrait studio, and you’ll get a photographer who’s willing to stand on their head and make duck noises just to get your kid to smile.
My son is at the awkward stage in life when he could use a little help looking his best. I’m sure in another five years, he’ll be breaking the hearts of teenage girls everywhere, but for right now, he’s a hot mess. His Alfalfa hair has to be tamed like a pack of pissed off porcupines every morning so he doesn’t go to school looking hung over; and he’s got a mouth full of teeth, all kind of doing their own thing, which gives him that quirky Brit-with-a-bad-dental-plan sort of look.
I know you probably make minimum wage, and you have to deal with little kids all day who pick their nose, blink, or make fart noises while you’re trying to do your job. But I only get one of these pictures a year. ONE. And I have to pass it along to every relative with a wallet. Why? I don’t know, it’s in the parenting rulebook. I give everyone a picture, and they pretend to give a shit. It’s a delicate balance and you’re making it much harder than it has to be. I know it’s not your problem, but I’ve got relatives with adorable kids who coordinate their hair bows and dresses, and kids that have no right to look beautiful when they’re supposed to be going through their gawky years.
So please, pretty please with fucking gummy bears and sprinkles on top – could you make sure my son’s shirt doesn’t look like he just rolled out of bed? Do you know how long I obsessed over which shirt to pick out for him? At least ten minutes…. which is nine minutes longer than I obsess over what clothes to put on my own body most days. All I’m asking is that you take a few seconds to straighten out the shirt I ironed, so I can show my family that for one brief, shining moment, he didn’t look like a hobo.
Granted, your depiction of my son in his rumpled (yet lightly starched) clothes was a much more realistic account of what he looks like on an everyday basis. But if I wanted realism, I’d have taken a snapshot of him in his pajamas while he shouted G-rated expletives at his video games, and saved myself the $60. I don’t think you understand the gravity of this situation. This picture will be immortalized on his Grandma’s wall of fame, next to the aforementioned Gerber babies and Gap kids my son has the unfortunate luck to be related to. So I’d really appreciate it if you would work with me!!
P.S. – On a more positive note, I wanted to let you know that I noticed the vast improvement you made in getting him to smile this year. Last year, he looked like he was trying to smile while passing a kidney stone, but this time, despite a mouth full of rebellious teeth, his smile looked lovely. I’d love to learn your secret before the holidays so I can avoid last year’s Christmas card picture fiasco. My kids were so traumatized by that photo shoot, that it took them until Valentine’s day before anyone could say the word “Cheese!” around them without causing them to scream bloody murder. We’ve been banned from three local pizzerias already….