I went to elementary school between 1987-1992. Picture Day was a big deal. Digital cameras weren't even around in commercial stores and places like Sears and Olan Mills held significant market share on the family portrait and photography market. That's why when Picture Day came up at school, parents took full advantage of the opportunity to get a nice profile or bust photo of their child.
I used to have the anxiety on Picture Day. My mom would press my hair the night before; curl it with those spongy pink rollers; put an old pair of pantyhose on my head; and in the morning voila! I'm a-ma-zing. This routine was a direct result of the patient love and care that my mother put into tomboys who she hoped would not fail her; providing awesome photos that could be sent to grandparents and godparents alike.
The anxiety came because I had to make a choice to either stick with the program or let her down. And for some reason, my class always had the photo slot right after recess or PE. I distinctly recall standing in my tights and dress, suppressing my urge to chase the boys on the playground. In a month or so, sleeves filled with 8x10s, 5x7s, and 3x5s would soon uncover if my ability to keep it together actually worked.
Fast forward a couple decades and I find myself doing hair and cleaning faces in hopes that those weird smiled missing teeth and those bright eyes produce something worthy of an xmas card or wallet slot of an older family member. Just like my mother. But who was I kidding... I wasn't sure I could pull it off and convince them that they could do this.
So while combing and brushing hair and hustling people into "nice" clothes the thought came into my head... "This is how they'll look forever in the school yearbook. We gotta get this right".
Here are some tips I gave them in hopes that Picture Day was a winner...
1. Be yourself but you know, a little less when it's time to say cheese
2. Don't smile so hard that your eyes close
3. Yeh that thing you do with your eyebrows... Don't
4. Open your eyes but don't bug them out
5. Apply some lip gloss before hand on your lips not your whole face like you usually do
Then I paused... I looked at my kids who were eagerly attempting to remember all the things I just said.
6. Scratch that... Be epic today
Why not? If these photos turn out zany I'm buying them all and meme-ing the hell out of them. And this #6 advice point shows that their face is enough. Why make them self conscious... it's not a photo shoot. If they choose to go AWOL, it shows how awesome they really are. If they miss the mark, that's the photographer's inability to take a picture- especially since they have digital cameras now. If the lighting is off, once again, photographer fail... The era of digital cameras means it's not a one and done deal like before. This isn't it. We can go into the woods or the park and take some photos and send them out if necessary. I shouldn't interject old school cultural norms into the reality of today.
Anyone can take a smiley picture. If they want to be recorded forever in an elementary school year book as an epic fricking rockstar, who am I to stop that. I'm looking forward to what we get...
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.