School Picture Sticker Shock
Back when I was growing up, “real” photos were a big deal. My parents owned a camera, but it was only used for special occasions or the rare candid moment. We’d have to wait for them to fill a whole roll to have them developed and only then could we see what images were captured. I still remember when they got one of those fancy Polaroid Cameras that spit out the picture. My siblings and I would fight over who got to shake it.
Still, real photos were rare. Every year, we had School Picture Day, and it was a chance for us to dress up and get our mug shots taken. My mom would send those photos of us in the Official Yearly Holiday Letter to all our friends and relatives.
(Here is my 1979-80 Kindergarten Photo, both the class group photo and the single shot of little JoAnn as a Kindergartner. This year my daughter is a Kindergartener. We’ve come full-circle.)
Am I the only one shocked by the fact that they do Picture Day twice a year out here? Really? Our kiddos are growing so much that we need to document the changes in 6-month increments? No? Then, this is all about money and how much those picture companies can make off of well-meaning parents who don’t want their children to suffer the peer pressure of not participating in picture day. Do all the different companies hum the same tune as they skip to the bank?
If the point of school photos is to provide everyone accessibility to “real” photos, then why are the prices so high?
All of this has made me think about how ridiculous school photos are now anyway. I’ve taken more photos of my daughter in her first few months of life than I had taken of me EVER…as in TOTAL my ENTIRE childhood. I know I’m not alone, as the blogs I follow and my Facebook friends are proof that this trend is continuing. I even get photos instantaneously via my magical handheld device, and that doesn’t count all the ones that get emailed to me.
Granted, most of these are not “professional” photos, but some of them are really good. If you prefer a “professional” feel to your photos, there are some really awesome studios around here that will take professional photos for CHEAPER than the school photos cost! Yes! Really!
You’d think that if the prices are this high, the quality would match it. Sadly, this has not been my experience. We’ve had ONE photo turn out well. ONE. All of the others have been returned for a refund. Because I wasn’t able to see a proof of the photo before supplying payment, I got the pleasure of working through the refund process. Fun!
Now, before I swear off school photos altogether, I do like the class group photos. Those are fun to see the group of kids together, and it’s a nice memento of the class. But, does a single photo need to cost $10 to $15 a piece!?
I have an order form sitting on my desk right now for pictures that are going to be taken next week, and I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. Will I pay? Probably. How much? I have no idea, but I guarantee you it’s going to be more than I’d like to.
So, what’s the point of school photos? Have they lost their place in this day and age? Is it time we tell the Lifetouch companies of the world that they’re out of touch?