School pictures. My, oh my, how things have changed.
When I was a kid, picture day was pretty simple. You were sent home from school a week before picture day with your order form. There were just a few choices of photo packages:
Package 1: The “I barely love my kid package” 1- 5×7 and 4 wallet size photos
Package 2: The “Family choice pack” 1- 8×10, 2- 5×7, and 8 wallet size photos
Package 3: The “Only child extravaganza package” 2- 8×10, 4- 5×7, and 24 wallet size photos
Picture day involved dressing up, going to school, having the teachers hand you a comb (which you got to keep, and use to flick your friends the rest of the day), and maybe if the teacher liked you, he or she would lick their finger and help with that major cowlick on top of your head.
Click. One picture, one background. Done.
A couple months later, your pictures arrived. If you had a fruit punch or a grape drink mustache, you were stuck with it, in photograph form, on your parent’s mantel for eternity. No touch ups, no retakes, that was it.
Fast forward to school picture day at my kids’ preschool.
First, the letter home, several weeks in advance, advising kids not to wear green on picture day, because pictures would be taken in front of a green screen. Next, an email reminder was sent home the week before, and again the day before picture day.
A few days after picture day, a small packet arrived home with our kids. It was their picture order form. The first thing I noticed were all the poses they had my kids doing. There were probably 10 different poses: sitting, standing, arms crossed, smiling, looking demented, head shot, full body shot, etc.
After looking at all the poses, it was time to check out all the backgrounds. Since the pictures were taken in front of a green screen, the background choices were basically endless. Did I want a picture of one of my kids at the beach? Or how about pretending to shiver in the snow? Maybe seated in front of a fireplace with a Christmas tree, or menorah, in the background? There were falling leaves, sunny fields, if you could think of it, your child could magically be standing in front of it.
Along with all the poses and backgrounds, all the things you could put your pictures on were also included in the packet. Sure they had the same photo packages as I did when I was a kid, and probably twice as many more than that, but they also had lots of other photo items for sale.
If you want to look at your adorable child’s face on your keys while they are screaming at you from the backseat of the car, you could get a photo key chain. Or if you want his or her picture on your cellphone so you can see their pretty face while they try to ask you questions as you use the phone, then you can get a photo phone case. If you need to be reminded why you drink, you can get your kid’s picture put on the side of a pint glass. The list goes on and on.
Finally, after choosing which items you would like, which poses, and which backgrounds, you can also pay extra to include digital touch ups to the photos. Yep, that’s right. Now, for a fee, you can say goodbye to that fruit punch or a grape drink mustache. Or maybe your kid has a mole you want to pretend doesn’t exist. Have it digitally removed. I’m sure it will do nothing to his or her self esteem.
And if you think this all sounds complicated, you should have seen the order form. There were more instructions on it than the bunk beds I assembled last weekend. I stared at them for probably 20 minutes before I called my wife into the room so she could double check that I did it right. After looking it all over, she said it made her head hurt and had never seen anything quite so complicated herself.
Eventually, we did sort it all out. We were able to order the poses and backgrounds and items we wanted, declining the option to airbrush our kids’ faces.
At least I hope we ordered the right pictures.
Smile big for the camera,