Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pride Cometh Before the Poor House

I have an issue that I'd like to complain about today.

School picture day.

I. ABSOLUTELY. HATE. IT.

There is something so cheesy, so tacky to me about the faded blue/gray background and posed child with a fake smile. It is the same no matter where you go. Granted, the school photographers are shooting anywhere from 500 to 600 kids in a day and, therefore, my kids only get one shot to look their best in the photo. I understand they're not going to spend the time it takes to get that one perfect shot.

Believe me, that task is next to impossible. I've spent the time it takes.

I have had to beg, demand, cajole, and even resort to paying my children in order to have them pose for me. I usually shoot about a hundred pictures, and will be lucky to get one or two that I like. There is no way the best of my children will be captured by the school photographer in one shot.

And yet, I feel compelled to purchase a package each and every time (which is twice a year in our current school). Not compelled because I want a collection of these ugly, stiff pictures, but because I refuse to have my child be the one child in their class who doesn't buy a package. I will not have them look longingly at their friends' ugly pictures and wonder why they don't have an ugly picture of their own. I will not have teachers and classmates think we cannot afford to buy a photo package. And that pride leads to us to spend a large amount of money every year on pictures that look ridiculous.

Here are just a few from my hidden collection:

I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that my children are the most beautiful children ever created, but these photos do not remotely capture anything other than stiff, awkward, serial-killer like expressions. I hate them. I don't send them to grandparents. I most certainly do not put them up on the wall.

You must be asking yourself then what pictures I do deem worthy of putting up on the wall? I am a photo snob, and I'll admit it. Here are some of my favorites, taken by me, of them:







See? You see what I mean now, don't you. Here is a picture of our photo wall with my favorite shots blown up.

And so, next week when I enclose a check in the Tacky-Photos-R-Us envelope for Hannah's ballet pictures, please know that I do it very begrudgingly. But I'd rather waste money than appear as though I have none.

Please tell me there is someone out there like me. I can't imagine that I'm all alone in my insanity. Right? RIGHT?

45 comments:

Heeere's J-dude: said...

I must be the most humble because I have not purchased any school photos in any way shape or form since like 1999 when it put me in the poor house.

Nope not one.

And I ususally don't care that my kids don't ever take anything home - not even from the book orders.

Muncey said...

School Photos, I was ranting on this exact subject just the other day.

Rochelleht said...

You're a NUT!

STOP BUYING THE PICTURES!

My kids don't even get a yearbook. My husband thinks I'm a mean cheapskate. I'm not a cheapskate. I spend his money at Anthropologie all the time. Just not on his adorable children's crappy school crap.

Kate said...

This made me laugh - when my girls are old enough, I'll probably do the same thing even though I've never seen a good school photo. But twice a year? That seems ridiculous!

Amanda said...

I was so proud of myself this year for not buying the second round of school pictures. Why do they do it twice? ARGH.

You never know though, you might get a magic shot!

Kelly A. said...

Sent my $36 in today. What really bugs is how the spring portraits are taken and developed, then they send them home and tell to you pay for what you keep and send the rest back. I'm not sending back pictures of my kids to be what, thrown in the dumpster?

And they tell you you won't get your report card if you don't send the money in. I didn't ask for you to take the pictures or develop them so how can the school hold my report card!! Sent the $36 in anyway.

You are normal to me.

Lindsey said...

Yep, I just buy them because I feel completely obligated to provide the school picture. I mean, I don't want my child at 30 to day... Mom, why don't you have any of my school pictures??? Not gonna happen, not here.. we will take those ugly pix and like it. BTW, you are a fabulous photog.

Becky said...

Nope, not with ya on this issue. I am way too cheap, christie. Those pictures are gross (not yours...mine) and I won't buy them. there was school in Texas that actually took some really cute pictures with a real backdrop of some cute fence or something, then they would send a proof home for you to DECIDE if you wanted them. That is what I loved. I do not buy the blue background anymore. I am prideful, but ...no,...not about that. Let it go, just like the 2nd vacuuming.

Becky said...

Oh, and PS. You have indeed YOURSELF captured some really cute pictures of your kids! You go girl. Someday I will have a camera like yours. :)

danandcindy said...

Allow me to quote you on your own blog...

"I will not have them look longingly at their friends' ugly pictures and wonder why they don't have an ugly picture of their own."

Well done Mother! All I know is that there are no ugly pictures of my children.

Brian & Aimee said...

I'm delurking today, because I just have to tell you how much I LOVE your photo wall! Such a great idea and so tastefully done! :)

Kim N said...

Wow, that is SO true! And is it weird for me to say I have never even thought of the fact that I have the OPTION of not buying them? I am seriously going to consider not buying them next time...well, maybe just a 5x7.

The pictures you took of your children are absolutely beautiful.

Jessica said...

In Utah, they always did pictures, like, the first few weeks of school. Here...it's like in November. You know what the problem is there?

I'll tell you: my kids look like they've suffered through a particularly harrowing round of cholera or something.

We are a pale people. We need our pictures taken in July, August or September. I can't believe yours are being taken in April after this hideously long winter.

Emy5 said...

What a difference a good photographer makes. The shots you took are gorgeous and so are your kids.

I only buy one sheet of pictures in the packet which works out at $12 per child. That keeps me out of the poorhouse, but I even begrudge paying that much if the pictures are not great!

TravelinOma said...

I didn't buy the pictures once. I can't remember which kid was mortified, claimed I didn't love her, reported me to her teacher, but I bought them all after that.

We didn't blog then, so I didn't realize any other mothers felt the same way. I thought there was something wrong with me. I had a photographer husband and his photos were lots better than the school pics.

And what do you do with a new scary 8 x 10 of every kid, every year? Save them for their mug shots?

andrea said...

you know i just wrote about the same thing. and then there was the BC post to boot.
i concur. although i've decided it's the "memory" we're buying. the memory of school pics is a big one for kids. so indulge them.

i love your photo wall. we need to talk photo. i'll be emailing you with my questions.

oh and ps i DID put the kids' school pics up. only the 5x7 size, in a nice row with matching black frames. it's for their benefit. plus it gives all the adults something to make fun of.

Mel said...

I'm starting to catch on. My oldest is in 1st this year and while his K pictures were pretty cute, I also hid this years pix. It was bad!! I love your picture wall! What program did you use for the pictures?

gab said...

That middle pic of McKay is totally cracking me up...also vampire-looking Chase. You have the world's MOST beautiful children (besides mine)...it takes a seriously screwy photographer to make them look that bad.

Also think team photos are a total joke. Both my kids "missed" basketball shots this year. I knew Oma would just throw them in the trash anyway...

Queen B said...

I always buy them and stick them right in the "school picture drawer".

What a racket.

Paige said...

I have a slot at the top of the closet where those hideous plastic envelopes go. I buy the cheapest package and still hate them. I'm glad you commented on those HIDEOUS backgrounds. But look at my nose job post and you'll see those school pics are put to good use in the future- that is if your kid gets two nose jobs.

Michael said...

Just think of buying the pictures as investing in great comedy for the rest of your life and your kids' lives. They can laugh about those other pictures...and blog about them, because we know you're raising little bloggers, whether you want to or not.

Kimberly said...

I feel the same way about Kiddie Kandids and other places like that. I would much rather pay $200 to a professional who takes their time than to someone who has no experience and no talent!

RobynandJoe said...

I especially hated the fact that the ugly school pictures end up in the Year Book for everyone ELSE to see! I absolutely HATED all of my pictures in Junior High and High School...and figured they were the reason the boys I liked didn't like me back! Stop buying them!

Maren :) said...

I do buy the fall pictures (the smallest packet), so that I can have the class piture - remember when scrapbooking was in? ☺ And, like Michael said, it is comedy for the rest of their lives. Your post walking us thru all your great hair styles (still can't believe you never had braces) would not have been as funny without your lovely school shots.

HOWEVER - I agree with Kelly A, the Spring pictures make me the maddest... WHAT? Send me the pictures ALREADY DEVELOPED, so I know when I send them back you are just going to toss them? WELL, I also do not like being forced to do something... so, I look at them with my girls - tell them how cute they are (yes, that is what I tell them), and then say "ok, give the pics back to your teacher tomorrow".

Because, really, there is only so much comedy you need to pay for!

Brett Nordquist said...

I agree with you about the school pictures and I'd add team sport pictures too like soccer. The pictures you took are gorgeous. Kim N told me I'd like your blog and I do. Subscribed.

Family Adventure said...

I buy the smallest package there is and leave it at that. It gets chucked every year, once we've fished out the class picture. For some reason, my boys like their class pictures, even though half of the kids invariably have their eyes closed or are looking elsewhere.

Love your photo wall.

Heidi

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

Well, I can totally relate. I have a drawer full of school photos still in the package with all of the pictures there! I don't think anyone every got a one of those pictures! And I have 5 kids! You can just imagine what that file drawer looks like!
And by the way, I LOVE LOVE LOVE your wall. With the pictures you take, you don't need their pictures.
But who am I to tell you this, as you just read, my pride is deep, just like yours.
And we also have something else in common, the second vacuuming in a day! But, I must tell you, my kids are all grown now, so it has gotten better, some days are just once a day. But I grab the little broom and dust pan to clean up the small areas that need to be cleaned!
Oh, the pains of pride and OCD!

mama jo said...

very funny..i always thought i was the worst mother because i didn't want to buy the pics...my kids would beg me for them so i would buy the cheapest package...and then i would beg them to comb/cut their hair...but, they are good to laugh at...your wall of pics is gorgeous...i love it..

Lisa @ Take90West said...

I love your photo wall, the photos are amazing.
Do you use photoshop or anything on them, or are you a natural photo lighting genius?
The school pic thing is a racket...I buy them every year too, because I feel like a bad mother if I don't want pictures of my own kids. And we have fall and spring too, the spring ones are slightly better than the fall,but all the pics just sit in the envelopes in a cabinet. And then there are the baseball, soccer, gymnastics, swim team pics. I could buy my own island with the money I spend on these pictures that are destined to sit in their envelopes till the end of time.

HILLARY said...

Will you come do a photo wall for me? I promise not to choose any school pics!
I hate doing them, too. And I buy the cheapest packet, too. BUT, I was just thinking that this way I have physical pictures, not just pictures in my computer :) I'm terrible about printing them out! Although, I did just catch onto importing to Costco.....

Beautiful babes!

Lauren said...

They take Fall and Spring pictues here. I buy the hideous fall ones for all of the obligitory reasons that you mentioned, but I can't bring myself to buy the spring ones. They use the strangest most, 80's like backgrounds for the Spring ones. Like neon looking tubing, or paint splashes. Also, the spring ones are a full body shot with the child sitting on a step ladder or fake stairs. Blech.

I love your photography. :)

Wendi said...

I. hate. school. pictures.
I once felt like you and bought them. They just sat in a box because I refused to share them with even the grandparents. One day I finally realized that I could put that money to better use. I no longer purchase the hideous packages. You are a much better photographer than they ever will be. Spend the money you would have spent on some more "blown up" versions of your own photography. Buy a new frame. Get a new lens. Just don't buy any more school pictures!

Rosie said...

You know, I've never really thought about this, but you are RIGHT! My kids' school pictures never look as good as the actual children. I have one kid with very curly hair, and the photographer's helper always combs through it and makes it a big puffball. I think I've been buying these pictures because my parents bought them every year. Not for any other reason. NO MORE!

Cecily R said...

I quit buying them this year. Too much money and you're right, they always turn out dorky. I take my own around the same time, frame them and call it good.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your photography. And I plan to be a total copycat when we move this summer and do a wall like yours. It's fantastic.

Kara Jayne said...

This post totally cracked me up! I hate the pictures too and always buy the cheapest packets. I love your photo wall and am excited to meet you next weekend!

Summers Camp said...

I do concur, my dear Stie. *B

Holly said...

Amen.

I buy a small package (mostly for grandparents) at the first of the year. Then for the second round, I only buy the class photo. I loved looking at my old class photos as a child, so I figure my kids will too. This year E missed that particular picture day and so I didn't get it ordered. I hate his teacher this year so I don't mind not having it!

You're a wonderful photographer. I'd rather have your pictures on the wall than the school ones too!!

Heidiram said...

You can do what I did (accidentally). Once a year we have to pay in advance for the photos (which I NEVER buy). Then in Spring, they send the entire deluxe package home and we take out what we want to purchase and send the rest back to the school with our check made payable to the picture company. This year my son brought the package home and was insistent I buy pictures since "he is the only one that never buys any pictures". I told him to stick them on top of the printer and I'd look at them, re-evaluate my anti-school picture stance, etc. Well one month passed and then another and another.

I just found the packet of pictures which were never returned to the school. Now what do I do? Send them back to school? Call the picture company and give them my visa number? Throw them in the garbage? Just bury them back into the pile they were in before I started cleaning?????

Kristy said...

DO NOT buy anymore school pics! Your kids have a great photographer right at home...lucky things!

Love the photo wall.

momof3crazykids said...

I also say don't buy the pictures. We too have 2 picture days and a class picture day. I buy the class ones, which are only $10, and the pictures they take in the spring are the "fun" ones that have bookmarks and key tags so I buy just that one sheet which is $12. They can get so totally expensive. The photos you have put here on your site are priceless and a lot better then any school photo would be

momof3crazykids said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mique (as in M-i-c-k-e-y) said...

Must get sleep (so I'm choosing not read through all your comments)...but you know I am a photo snob. But I have the same darn issues you do- you just have to get those pics from school. But there is no rule you have to frame them. I want to take a framing class from you. Oh btw did I tell you about that photo retreat that Ali Edwards/Candace Stringham is doing? Do you know about it already- what do you say- you,me, photo retreat??? I'll talk to you about it at BP. Can you believe it's SO darn close? You might've already left for UT??? Anyway- can't wait to meet you face to face. ;)

Susy said...

I home school and I don't even take them to Walmart for the "look" of a school picture, loose the pride and remember your wall, By the way it is beautiful and by you!

melissa ( : said...

Hillarious!
As a teacher myself (first grade) I do sometimes really wonder why the parents are buying these photos of their kids! The background is lame, and let's be honest, I know the kids pretty well and how cute they can be... cute is not what they are in school pictures. So thanks for the inside look... I've never judged a parent for not buying the pics... but I do appreciate the torment it puts you through. At least you don't still have to get a school picture taken of your self... at the age of 25! Believe me... it never gets any better.

2happy+2 said...

I was just speaking with my Mother-in-Law about this very subject. Shaelyn's this year was horrible. She was in the middle of saying something and they snapped the dang photo. When I was younger we paid after we saw the photos. Now you pay first. If I saw the picture first there is no way I am buying any and I think they know that. Sly little devils.