It’s that time of year again (at least, here in the U.S.). Time for parents to complain about having to shell out their hard-earned money for some head shots of their little cherubs, but eventually do it anyway. That’s right! It’s time for school pictures!

school pictures

I’ll admit that I used to purchase the cheapest package of school pictures they had available. It consisted of a “class” picture, (which is really just the head shots of all the children and teachers from their class arranged on one single sheet, and NOT a picture of all the kids standing next to each other like it was in the old days), two wallet size, four smaller than wallet size, and one 3 x 5.

Then, last year, they raised the price, while at the same time, reducing the number of prints you actually got in that package. That, coupled with the fact that I literally have thousands of pictures of my kids, was the end of the line for me and school pictures.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s wonderful having school pictures to look at and reminisce. I love seeing my own old school pictures, and the faces of people I’ve long forgotten. But in this day and age, with every Tom, Dick, and Harry having their own fancy digital camera at the tip of their fingers, how can these companies justify charging the prices they charge for mediocre (at best) photographs?

I’m not trying to put down people who do this for a living, because I know sure wouldn’t want to go from school to school, day after day, trying to get hundreds of decent pictures of hundreds of germ-laden kids. But those prices! At least 30 years ago, the school photographers had to give it some effort!

They didn’t have digital cameras where they could instantly see whether or not it was a decent photo. They had to try and get us to smile, snap a few shots, and hope against hope that they got us with our eyes open. Then they had to get the film developed! Remember that? They didn’t just hit print and be on their merry way.

As I mentioned before, they also had to arrange each class, tallest to shortest, again, snapping a few shots hoping that everyone was smiling, or at least looked halfway normal. I don’t know about other companies, but the one our school uses doesn’t bother with all that, making the “class picture” incredibly impersonal.

So the reason I don’t purchase school pictures isn’t simply the price. It’s what you get (or don’t get) for your money. And, call me crazy, but I don’t think a few school pictures of my kids with awkward smiles and their eyes half-closed are worth upwards of $100 dollars.

Instead, I save that money. Then I take my own camera, snap a few shots of my kids in front of a white sheet, and use free editing software to make it look exactly like one of those expensive school pictures. And no one will know the difference.

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