Why Do We Still Do School Picture Day?

buzz bishop grade 1It’s school picture day today.

For the past couple of nights my wife has been test driving outfits, hairstyles, and having our son practice his smile.

It’s as well they should, judging by my Grade 1 picture at the left.

But I still don’t get the whole school picture thing and why we insist on doing it.

It’s like the landline I cannot convince my wife to cancel, or the cable cord I cannot convince her to cut. We have it out of a comfortable, habitual convenience, not because of any real need.

I have 30 pictures of the boys from our bike ride in the park last weekend. Another 23 from our camping trip the weekend before. There are more than 11 000 pictures in my Flickr account.

Whenever they visit their grandparents, my mom goes online and takes the best photos and orders them a photo book so they can be the star of their own story.

I argue that we don’t need to pay a photographer to take pictures of my kid.

The first day of school, we had our boys pose on the front step. Individually. Together. Smiling. Serious. We took pictures with our phones and we were happy, proud, and satisfied.

School Picture DayWhen my son got to school, the teacher did one of those whiteboard photos that Pinterest-y parents like to do, and then she gave us a copy of the snapshot.

It’s already on our fridge.

Yet, today is “School Picture Day” an event that is boldly marked on our family calendar.

Let’s be honest, chances are you’re a ‘better’ photographer than the one that will come to the school this month. Better in the sense that you have the time to be more creative. You have the time to get the right shot. You have the time to go into photoshop and do the little extra things to make photos interesting.

School picture day is a cattle call. Next. Next. Next. Next.

And then we pay for them.

We don’t need them and we pay for them. Sure, you can make the argument that the school could use the commissions as part of their fundraising, but this is one of those ancient traditional things that we do because we’ve always done it, not because we need to do it.

first day of schoolMy son will wear a very nice, proper shirt to school today. He will give a toothless, goofy smile, and my wife will insist on paying the $20, $40, or more for a photo package so we can send pics off to the grandparents.

My boys already have Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook accounts where we share pics with family. The photos I took on our front step are our ‘traditional photo’ – I could print those off for a dollar at the drugstore. I could scan the very cute picture my son’s teacher sent home the first week.

Instead, we will buy Photo Package A. Or Maybe D.

And then, while we drive to the post office to buy a stamp, my kids will FaceTime with their grandparents with my iPhone over LTE from the backseat of the moving vehicle. #irony

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