Today my son brought the annual School Photography order form home and my husband was surprised at the comment that I made on receiving it.
I have been pretty indifferent to the results of our boys’ school photos over the past few years, but I have heard many negative comments from other parents who are disappointed with the care taken by the chosen photographer, with images of children with hair sticking up or in weird positions and “staged” looking smiles – or no smiles at all.
How often have you been disappointed? Is it too much to ask that the photographer takes a few extra seconds to make our children feel more comfortable, or just pat that bit of hair down? As a children’s photographer myself I’d like to think it’s not.
“It’s just part of the journey” was the comment that surprised my husband this morning. I am of the belief that school photos are almost a compulsory part of the school experience – a record of the journey through the years and something that our kids can look back on (and laugh at) when they are older. I enjoy looking at my school photos and of course those of my parents, and consequently I order the school photos every year for my children.
Having said that, it would be nice to know that the photos will not be a disappointment when they arrive! Actually, to be honest, I don’t have high expectations of our school photos anymore – hence the indifference.
At least with school photography the children are old enough to sit still – which brings me to Kindy and Child Care Centre photography.
I work with many Child Care centres on the coast and always get great feedback on the photos that I take. What I do try to achieve with photographs of toddlers and pre-schoolers is a relaxed, natural, happy image. Whenever I can I like to take the photos outside in the play area, not climbing all over the play equipment, but usually sitting in a shady corner of the garden. I work without big lights, just a small flash mounted on my camera – the children seem more relaxed this way. I talk to the kids and always use positive, happy words, I say silly things to make them laugh, like “monkey’s undies”, and I do a lot of tickling with the little ones. Snotty noses and dirty faces get a wipe before we start and any hair issues are sorted out. It only takes a few extra seconds and makes the world of difference to the photos.
So no, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect great school and pre-school photos of our kids – and maybe I need to raise my parental expectations again!