Normally, this would crack me up. I prefer pictures of kids just being kids. But I did a favor to the nursery school this year. I stepped in as school portrait photographer, and I’ve met a new kind of mom. Photo retake mom.
Through twelve years of public school, I went to picture retake day exactly twice. Once was a true make-up day – I woke up on picture day with one eye swollen shut. The second time was a fluke – I was absent on picture day, so I had to have my mug shot the first time while other kids were lining up for a do over. My lack of experience with retake day sent me running for moms of school-aged kids this weekend. Photo retake mom didn’t like her four-year-old’s personal photo. What to do?
As an artist, I realize people don’t always like your interpretations. I can live with that. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) school portraits don’t leave a lot of room for interpretation. They aren’t the place for fancy camera angles, unique lighting techniques. You line the kids up and shoot ‘em. That’s why this was a favor to the school owner, not my usual bread and butter.
But all the moms I’ve hit up tell me this is a common phenomenon. Few of my friends have ever availed themselves of retake day, but they know just the kind of mom I was talking about. She wants her kid to look like a movie star, and she blames the photographer for the goofy grin and the cowlick. Even after take two, she complains. Loudly. To anyone who listens.
Ironically, finding out there are plenty of moms out there who blame the photographer made me – the photographer – feel better. I’m sure people will tell me I’m being defensive here. But some people have the bar set just a tad bit too high for their kids. All those yearbook photo jokes sites on the Web exist because school photos are hardly kids’ best shots. So photo retake mom will always say it’s the photographer’s fault. So I’ll go back to interpreting the art of photography my way. And I’ll take my daughter’s photos – the good, the bad and the ugly.