To the Guy Who Took My Kid’s School Photo

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!! 

Sincerely yours,

Mommy Dearest

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….

25 thoughts on “To the Guy Who Took My Kid’s School Photo

  1. Being a mother of three boys I feel your pain in trying to have them look presentable in their annual school pictures. I have seen much worse than the photo you posted. He’s such a cute guy whose shirt is but a blip behind such a great smile. Those nine extra minutes picking out his clothes just showed you cared and wanted him to look good.

    • Yes, this is far from the worst school photo ever taken. But it’s definitely a top three contender on Grandma’s wall of fame. Or as the grandkids like to call it, the “wall of shame”. There’s some stiff competition up there.

  2. yes.yes.yes. I pay for the school photos even though I take much better photos of my child. I wouldn’t want that job, but I do wish they would try a little harder for the $$$ they charge.

    At this point, I think I’m just paying for the group photo. That’s actually better when it’s horrible.

  3. the grandparents who are lucky enough to have him for a grandson and lucky enough to get
    a picture will all think he looks awesome

    • Nana –

      Your subtle plea for photos has been dually noted. Expect this year’s installment of this-is-what-the-kids-have-been-up-to-the-past-year photos sometime after Halloween 🙂


  4. I love it! My son’s photographer had him put his chin down, which made my son resemblea toad. When I saw his pictures I was sure it wasn’t him. Tomorrow are retakes. Tomorrow is also moustache day for Red Ribbon Week. I hope the photographer tells him to take off his Fu Man Chu before he takes his picture… though if he doesn’t, you will definitely see the end result.

    • One of the school photographers pulled that “put your chin down” stuff with my daughter one year in an effort to minimize the glare off her glasses – the combination of the odd angle and the grimace/half-smile on her face made her look almost homicidal. She probably was at that moment… I know I was when I got the pics back.

      Good luck with the new pictures! I think you’re going to need it with retakes lining up with mustache day…. I smell a blog post.

  5. He looks cute but I agree they should have fixed his shirt! do you have to buy them? how about just taking an awesome pic of him yourself and make multiple copies for people?

    • Noreen –

      I could’ve gone through the agony of having the pictures retaken, but I just didn’t have the energy to get him all dolled up again – new haircut, digging out the iron again, picking out a shirt that the photographer couldn’t screw up, etc. It just isn’t worth it. Besides, I’d say a crappy school picture is an even exchange for a good blog post 🙂

  6. His picture looks great! but they could have straightened out his t-shirt for him!! I remember dressing them and doing their hair for school pics, and telling them, “DO NOT LET THEM TOUCH YOUR HAIR!” because they can make a kid look like they just came out of a wind tunnel! And who schedules these picture taking appts? They should make sure it’s not taken after gym, unless you want a pic of a half dressed sweat hog!! What a great subject Linda!

    • Eileen –

      I remember WAY back when, the photographers used to hand out little black combs before you took your picture so you could tidy up your hair. The guys used to try and be all “Grease” when they were combing their hair, and 9 times out of 10, they wound up looking more like a duck than Danny Zuko.

      I agree with the poor planning behind the gym class/picture day collision. The photographer should just save himself a lot of time and effort and automatically tell kids to come back for the retakes – they never come out good.

  7. I feel your picture pain! We made the unfortunate choice of a red background which I’m sure was made by my 8 year old. Then there was the turquoise polo shirt (who would remember choosing red?) plus a really awful head tilt. The pictures are all still in the envelope they came in. Maybe round two will be better.

    • LOL, this was my favorite comment so far 🙂 The red background/turquoise shirt was an unfortunate combination. We made the mistake of choosing brown for a background one year – in the paperwork they have you fill out, it looked like a really warm, dark chocolate brown. But when the pictures came back, it looked like he was sitting in front of a wall of baby diarrhea. It was strictly grey or blue backgrounds from that day on.

      Good luck with the retakes!

  8. I love the honesty of this blog! I am a school social worker who sees all ups and downs of kids, and this is as real as it gets 🙂 Thanks for sharing. And, he definitely is a handsome cute lil guy!

  9. My mom had two picture frames that contained the history of school pictures for my brother and I. Each year we would leaf through the previous photos and wonder why my mom was keeping them. My favorite was the year my mom thought I should have a perm and I ended up looking like I had cocker spaniel ears on the side of my head.

    • Oh no! Not the 80’s/ 90’s perms!!! I just shuddered with the memories of all the bad hair that happened during those decades. I rocked the “Slippery When Wet” Bon Jovi hair for YEARS.

  10. Pingback: Friday Favorites | MAnaGIng mANiA

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