It’s a school tradition as highly anticipated as the first day back at school for parents. On the flip side, for many kids, it’s a ritual that is dreaded as deeply as their end-of-year exams.
We’re talking of course, about School Picture Day. A yearly practice, whereby a photographer (of varying skill) comes to take individual pictures of each student, in front of a very eighties-looking backdrop.
Once upon a time, in the golden age of parenting—you know, back when kids weren’t over-scheduled, over-entitled or whatever new criticism there is being levelled at Gen-Zers—your moms and dad would send one to the grandparents, frame another in your living room or hide it in the attic until you were old enough to be really embarrassed by it.
But now, in the age of smartphones, Facebook and Instagram, is it really necessary to buy photographs that document our children’s growth each year? Especially when we have filters and apps designed to make those awkward school years a little more Clarendon and a little less gangly and acne-prone?
We asked a few moms in the office whether they still purchased their kids’ photos, and here’s what they had to say:
Heather Dixon, SavvyMom Editor-in-Chief
“I used to, but I’m starting to opt out of buying them. My daughter is so adorable and cute and sweet, but in last year’s school photo she actually looked like a mini sociopath. (I would never tell her that, of course. I just nodded and smiled and said “Oh how nice, sweetie!). Also, for some reason, my kids HATE retake day, so they would probably turn out worse.”
Leslie Kennedy, Writer
“I love love love the school portraits I get every year. My favourite was two years ago when my daughter was six. She had a beautiful ear to ear smile in both poses. In one, she was looking right at the camera, and her smile was a little bit less genuine. In the other, her smile was more natural but she was looking totally off to the side. I thought it was completely hilarious and rather than the decent one where she was looking at the camera, rather than recommending we do retakes, I instead ordered and hung on my wall the picture of her with her eyes looking somewhere behind the photographer because it’s so her.”
Stephanie Barbosa, Pursuit Editor
“I just got our first proofs (my son is in JK) and they’re so cute! We’re going to buy a small set—one for each of us (we’re separated) and one for each set of grandparents/great grandparents —so 8 in total.”
Shannon Kelly, Help! We’ve Got Kids Editor
“I bought the photos last year for JK. I figured at the very least, we can always look back someday and laugh. They were not great, and that was after retakes. The first set was downright awful. Imagine the smile you might attempt while getting a neck tattoo and trying to read the bottom row of an eye chart. That was the look on my normally adorable 4-year-old’s face. Granted, getting little kids to smile naturally for the camera is a challenge, but shouldn’t professional school photographers have some tricks up their sleeve? We weren’t the only ones: the kindergarten teacher told me it was the worst photo year in memory. Can’t wait to see this year’s results!”
Heather Jones, Writer
“No. My child makes Chandler Bing’s smile look like a toothpaste commercial. And one year, he was dressed as Captain Kirk. Plus, the packages are crazy. Package D: 26 mini wallets and a 36 x 48 = $265. Uh, what?! We have professional photos taken each Christmas, and in between, we rely on the 10,000 photos we take on our phones to remind us what they looked like on any given day.”
Rebecca Eckler, Executive Editor at SavvyMom
“I may buy them simply to horrify my children when they’re older. Isn’t that what school photos are for?”
Leslie McCormick, Campaign Manager
“I still buy a package for each kid, but usually the smallest one available (for our school that is 2 5×7 photos for about $16). Then I usually put it in a drawer and forget to do anything with them. I find that with Facebook and Instagram the grandparents and family don’t have the same need to get a printed picture every year. But I still like to get them so that my kids will have a copy for the future so they can look back and remember the year they chose to wear a favourite shirt or laugh at a bad hairdo.”
Do you buy your kid’s school pictures? Let us know in the comments!