The school photograph. Yes, that thing.

Children walking along a tree top walk

On this day, the 16th January (only nearly half way through the month, what have I been doing?!) I have decided to get straight to the point. In 2019 I am taking on ‘the school photograph’.

Child outdoors

Yes people, I am making it my mission to drag this little rite of passage, the dreaded school photograph, into the correct century because it is time. It is so time. As both a parent and photographer I feel that I am qualified to do this task!

Let’s start from the professional point of view, the photographer one. I was appalled at both the quality and the price of this so called ‘professional’ photograph. First and foremost, snot, a close second is food residue, third is hair, fourth is pose and five, oh me oh my, five is background. 

When working with children it’s a given that snot, eye sleep, food residue etc will all be there at some point. I try where possible to ensure that all clients children have a fresh face prior to snapping away.
Sometimes this isn’t possible however that doesn’t matter because part of my job is ALSO to check in post production. Removing such things from an image is tidying up, it’s ensuring that your focus is on the most important thing, your child. Not the crusty nose.

The pose and the background. Education has changed since the 1970s, so has the teaching environment. Why hasn’t the school photograph?! Children now spend more time learning outdoors than times gone by, many environments are ‘child led’. We no longer see row after row of desks nor are children expected to be seen and not heard.

Could the lack of change be anything to do with the fact that the photography industry is unregulated and unfortunately people have assumed that the professional photographers out there, offering such services, have also changed with the times? Or is it, (can it be?!) that the demand for this dated photograph is actually still there? I do wonder. We don’t live in houses where primary coloured school jumpers and cardigans complement the walls and frames of today. We need our child’s school photograph to show off our child in all their school day glory as well as needing it to be something that we truly want to put on a wall or in a frame. This is good for children too. We can talk about that psychology in another post.

Child in the classroomMoney, then we get to the money (that’s a whole blog in itself, I’ll keep this short and sweet though). The prices are too high for what is received and most important of all they are not fair. All parents feel duty bound to buy the school photograph, our parents did and our grandparents did. As I said earlier, it’s a rite of passage. For some this is their first experience of using a professional photographers’ services and oh my goodness me things do need to change. Why can’t a parent have all the digital images? This rule is not applicable to all shoots by the way. For example, it would be an unfair ask of a wedding photographer, there would simply be too many photographs. Now that I have defended that little bombshell – there isn’t a need to take more than five per child, so why not hand those over?

Before I really get going I will ask you a few questions and sign off. 2019 is the year of the school photograph for me so there will be more from me on this, this is simply for starters! I have way more to say and do …. I don’t want to throw it all out there just yet though!

  1. Would you buy a school photograph of your child if the photograph was of the child at play or studying rather than seated and looking directly at the camera?
  2. Do you buy printed copies, digital copies, both or neither? If neither, why not?
  3. Would you like to have an option of being able to buy black and white/colour toned down (less bright jumper allowing for your focus to be the child) school photographs?

Any feedback would be hugely appreciated. I really would like to work on something that truly represents what people would like.

Children walking along a tree top walk

Enjoy 2019 people, do what works for you and remember to be kind. Kind is always good.

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