Why I don't buy school pictures

I have three school age kids. Since my kids have been attending school, I have been getting those packets of information at the beginning of the school year from whatever local photography studio has been commissioned to the task of photographing every single child with the most hideous backgrounds available. {this year there was a video game background.  Barf.}

Each year, I throw the packet away. Straight to the trash it goes. And every year, I feel like I have to explain to the school staff or to the photographers or to my children or to other parents why I don't buy school pictures of my children.

I thought I would throw my reasoning out there into the world {OK at least to my little world}
in the hopes that maybe I could explain myself and quite possibly help another parent not feel guilted into buying cheap {and by cheap I don't mean money cheap, I mean cheaply done} pictures of their children that will end up in a drawer in an uncut sheet of wallets and "mini's".

Let's be honest, school pictures usually suck. 

There is a whole section in awkward family photos dedicated to bad paid for school pictures.

Why?  Because school pictures are awkward.

Kids get shuttled into an unused classroom or gym that has been made into a faux photography studio for the day.

Each child has three minutes to sit on a box and awkwardly find a hand placement on their lap before the photographer starts snapping away.

Three images are taken  {four if you blink} and then the child is sent packing stage left while the photographer bellows "next".

school picture day

The portrait packages are far too expensive to be buying  {especially in multiples of three}
bad pictures that will never see the light of day outside of their paper package.

Out of the 12 background selections for my oldest son's portraits, not a single one was a color that would match with the rest of my house. I'm not hanging them on my wall.

But does it mean that I love my kids any less?

In fact, my kids are adequately represented in portraits all throughout our home. We have pictures lining the walls in our den, on our entertainment center and in our bedroom. I just choose to hire a professional that doesn't use a laser striped background to photograph our kids.

laser background on school photo

Getting professional portraits aren't cheap, but I get far better pictures of my kids. Pictures that I want to hang on the walls. Pictures that I want to make copies of for my family and friends. Pictures that I want to blow up and use as art.

Show me a school picture with an outer space background that you would want to blow up to a 16x20 and then maybe we can talk.

Until then parents, I release you of guilt. You don't have to buy school pictures.

The earth will still be spinning. Your kids will still be represented in the school year book.
Their pictures will still be used on their ASB cards. Take the $33 that you don't spend on {most popular} package D and save it for family photographs.

You can thank me later.


Unknown said...

Great post! We just received our packet yesterday and the "most popular" package is $44!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I gave up on school pictures several years ago. I did it after I realized that the first day of school photos I took on our porch were ones I'd rather frame! It was seriously the best burden lifted. Now, I just make sure to take a good photo of each of my kids to represent that school year. That photo might not happen until December and sometimes it's professional and sometimes it just happens to be a great shot that I took.

I do the same thing you do and just toss the order form. I wish every parent understood that!

Great post.

Sally P said...

I hope you support your school in another way. PTAs and schools have different budgets and guidelines. School portraits are a major fundraiser for our school. I'm not wanting to make you feel guilty for not wanting them. Just please find another way to support your school directly.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud so hard at the photos you selected here because it is not only hilarious but a true representation of what I've faced over the years. I agree 100% with what you are saying here, that a parent should not feel guilty for making a personal decision regarding the money they choose to spend on their children. If I'm not pleased with the photos in anyway, I do not purchase as simple as that. This was a really great post & hit home for many of us parents whether we'll openly admit it or not.

Bethany said...

Yay! Finally someone said what I was thinking. School pictures are far to expensive and they are horrible. Thank You!!!!

Cheryl RS said...

You needn't worry -- they aren't a fundraiser for any of your schools. LOL. But I LOVE school photos. For all of the reasons you list. We get the CD usually so we get to choose from all of the hideous backgrounds and then print 'em on the cheap at Costco. They are a source of joy and amusement. I have my old school photos and they are awful. In no small part they are awful because my mother always decided to trim my bangs for them...

But anyway, the awful hideousness feels like a rite of passage. They make us giggle when we look at them. Don't get me wrong -- we do professional portraits for the walls. But for the memories and the laughs, school photos are worth every dime.

Unknown said...

I buy the CD (plus the group shot) and that's it. I like that option because then I can't print out only what I need and nothing's wasted. And, we don't have relatives get smaller photos than others do. If we want only the 5X7 size, then that's what we print off.

yodinbe7 said...

Thank you so much, I needed to read this today. Apparently my Kindergarten son was not allowed to take "Spring" photos today with the rest of his class because we did not purchase from Lifetouch ahead of time online. I stupidly assumed that we could purchase them later. I am grateful (sarcasm dripping from my voice) that my son now feels totally left out and currently hates me because I would rather spend that money on a family outing than on these stupid photos. LOL

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