So, why do we still take them?

On the eve of school pictures, I have two kids who can’t wait to get home, get scrubbed, and lay out their clothes for school pictures tomorrow. This is education reform month so let’s reform the way we think about school pictures. Can we please just admit that school pictures are a thing of the past, kind of like chalkboards, and some would say physical books?

Since we’re thinking in a new way I’d like to ask two questions:

1. If you have kids do they get their school pictures taken?

2. If so, then why?

Tradition

Traditionally, say school pics are used as an update for the family photo wall. They go in homemade gifts for grandparents or go in holiday family cards. They are the thing that’s done year-in, year-out. No one really questions it, it is just something you do.

The hair is done just right, dollied up in curls or slicked back with gel, product, or spit. Eww! More than once I’ve watched little boys spit in their hands and slick the hair right before posing for the shot he will be stuck with for the year. Mom, Dad, and the kids stressed about what to wear, or even bought new clothes. Are the pictures worth the effort?

Do you realize school pictures are a fundraiser for the school? No one talks about how much money the school makes off of those squat and click, pose for 30-second pics that everyone is stressed out over.

As a PTA mom who has negotiated the details of the contract for the school fundraiser, I’d like to pull back the curtain. In most cases, the school only receives 40% of the revenue earned by the event. The company retains 60% claiming part of the profits for the student prize package. You know the prizes I mean, those cheap flimsy good-for-nothing prizes the school gets the children all excited about earning. The cookies, candy, nuts, cheese, and sausage you purchase may be a little harder to swallow now. School pictures fly under the radar as a fundraiser, and there is no prize package.

I’ll never understand the school that doesn’t offer a buy-out option. We’ve been at schools where parents can write a check so the kids can go to the celebration party and the school can receive the same $50 without all the hassle. All my family is in another state. I’d spend more on shipping than family would spend on the product itself. But, I digress.

Why?

Why do we have kids take school pictures? Don’t most people have a cell phone? My phone has a few thousand pics. They aren’t all of the kids, but plenty of them are. If someone asks about my kids I can pull out my phone and produce their grinning faces on the spot. I’m willing to bet the same is true for you. Isn’t a Facebook album or an Instagram layout equally as good? Most Grandparents even have Facebook and can share pics of their adorable grandkids just as easily as proud parents.

I have several packages of school pictures that are completely untouched. Mom asked for some pics of the kids and they are still untouched, in the same envelope as last year. Not a single page of pics was cut or dispersed to adoring family members. I don’t see any sense in adding another couple of envelopes to the stack.

This year the package with the cd is $45 and I have two kids. I can spend the same $90 on a photo session, have new family pics and each child can have her own separate individual picture taken with more care than a school fundraiser photographer will ever give. The photos may never make the family wall, but if I’m going to spend the money I’ll exercise this option.

This year we are saying no to the school picture package. Will the kids be scarred? Probably not. They will get all primped for the picture just like all the other students because it is the yearbook picture, but we will not purchase the package. The kids both want a yearbook and we are happy to oblige. The yearbook is another school fundraiser, but one they revisit and enjoy. That is something I will spend money on.

Have I reformed the way you think about school pictures? If this is enjoyable or thought-provoking please clap for it so others will see it too.