We have a local photography company who has always done the school portraits. Even when I went to school, 100 years ago, that same company came out on picture day, and shot the whole school.
Back in the day, you had your individual photos--and you had one shot at those bad boys...so if your class was the unfortunate class who was scheduled to go in right after lunch, than odds are, some kid in your class had Cheetos cheeks. Or if you were the last class to be herded into the lunchroom for your turn, you have been through lunch, and all three recesses, and chances are your Little House on the Prairie curls that your mom shellacked with Aqua Net that morning were droopy or altogether non-existent.
Now, back in the day, this same company may have had some complaints about the process, because they did provide each victim with a black unbreakable comb, to try to smooth out the damage of the day before you ended up on grandma's piano in a cheap oak frame looking like you just came in from a busy day of rolling around on the playground grass. Forever. To the embarrassment of your mother, on the piano with your buck teeth and messy hair. Forever.
Then you had the added stress of the class photo. Everyone would line up on the stage, on the graduating stairs (tallest in the back, shortest in the front) and everyone hold your smile...and girl in the back, stand up straight! And boy in the second row, yes, YOU! DO NOT do rabbit ears to that girl's head in front of you! I SEE YOU! And someone would always have their eyes closed.
This particular photography business has a trademark gimmick of getting kids to smile. They have a rubber chicken that they throw at you. The look is more of shock than happy smile, but never-the-less, it can pass for a smile, that open-mouthed shock.
A couple years into the gimmick, they switched it up, and let the kids throw the chicken at the photographer. Then, the smiles were more of a sneer "take THAT chicken-man." A couple of expensive umbrella lights later, it seems like they have completely done away with the chickens.
I took Mikayla up to the school on toddler picture day, to have her photo taken, so she would match the other kids on our wall. After all, school pictures are a tradition! They are a rite of passage! They are a staple of every home in town! The chicken-man is a professional, for Pete's sake!
The minimum wage photographer was less than impressive. He was completely lifeless. He literally sat my four year old down on the carpeted pedestal and said "okay...smile."
Mikayla just looked at him, and blinked.
Really? Cheese? On toddler day?
How's that working out for you?
Where is the chicken? You neeeeeed the chicken!
Finally, I got behind the camera. I made her smile. And I still had to pay him for his "services."
I got them back today. They are not great. They are off-center. The color could use some saturation. Her under-eye needs to be dodged a little. I would clone out her wispy hair, that is back-lit and shows up like spider webs. The 8x10 is slightly out of focus.
And I am thinking, man! When I start critiquing the chicken-man is when I need to stop BUYING the stupid packages and just have enough confidence with my own photography.