BLUE Lollipops (and 4-or-more other “NO-NO”‘s the day before School Picture Day)

Ok, so we’ve covered Rule #1 in the title. Seems pretty obvious, but Moms, you may want to share this reminder with Dad while there’s still time. Yes, it happened to me. Trust me, the last things you want matching your child’s beautiful blue eyes are their lips, tongue and teeth. Also falling under this category would be avoiding participation in accident prone activities such as roller derbies, ninja-karate competitions and snake wresting.

#2 Haircuts and Hairstyles

Most children’s haircuts are done in the summer and are already out of the way by the time school begins. Those who wait until just before school picture day, especially when it includes a significant change in length or style, are eliminating any possible “adjustment period” which could be used to tame new bangs or even go back for a “fix” if you just aren’t happy with the cut at all. It’s a good rule of thumb to get haircuts out of the way a couple weeks before picture day, and also use this time to experiment with any new styles such as braids and curls. Ponytails are not recommended for portraits since all of the hair is hidden behind your child’s head and often makes your child look short-haired in the final photo.

#3 Choosing Outfits and Accessories

The night before School Picture Day is NOT the time for taking the kids on a shopping spree. It may seem like a special “treat”, but when parent and child disagree over the lucky outfit, or the store is out of size 6x (and every size within reasonable exchange) in that perfect shirt you saw in the store’s ad flyer, it causes undue stress that will surely follow the child all the way to the camera and show through in her expression in the final prints. This holds true ESPECIALLY for siblings. If you want their outfits to compliment each other, special-order their sizes if necessary and secure their outfits well in advance. There are several factors that need to be considered in choosing clothing and this is not a test you can cram for.  The rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Limit patterns, choose classic styles that compliment your child’s features and skin tones and forgo any wording and logos that might get “cut off”.  Keep jewelry and accessories to a minimum. (You want the focus on that angelic face!). Strapped for cash? Many school forms provide a “special instruction” section. Forgo the new pair of shoes and ask the photographer not to include your child’s feet in the photo. The clothing your child wears should also compliment (but not MATCH) your  choice of background, which leads me to….

#4 Choosing your Background

Most modern school portrait companies offer a choice of 3 or 4 digital backgrounds. Warm colors look best with darker skin tones and cool tones with lighter ones, though there are always exceptions. You know your child best. Parents often overlook the color scheme of the room they will be hanging their child’s portraits in. Think of them, and the frames you choose, as extensions of your home décor. Classic backgrounds work best for formal rooms and will compliment the majority of your extended family members’ homes as well.  More trendy backdrops can be used just about anywhere else in the home. In addition to choosing a background, school portrait companies typically give you a choice of two or three poses. It might not be the worst idea to have your child “practice” the chosen pose for a few days. Sounds silly, but some kids get really nervous about posing and practice may boost their confidence, which will lead to a more natural smile.

#5 Choosing your Print Package

Randomly choosing what size and quantity prints to order WASTES MONEY. Not only are you bound to end up apologizing to Auntie #3 that she’s the only Auntie without a 5×7 on her mantle, but you might also end up with a surplus of wallet sized prints and nothing to frame and hang on your living room wall. Neglecting to include your child’s class photo is, in my opinion, the worst mistake a parent can make of all. We take plenty of photos of our children at home, but only your school can provide a photographical diary of your child as they grow up alongside their friends and classmates. If you order nothing else, order the class photo. But why would you decide NOT to order school portraits? I think the reasons are pretty obvious. Let me expand on this…

A lot of work, isn’t it?!?

And just think, after all the time and thought (and cash) you’ve invested, not to mention making them wear bibs at breakfast on school picture day morning and begging them not to get any dirt, paint or food on themselves before their turn to shine, you get ONE photo when your order arrives next month. ONE.  Sure, there are “re-takes” but who wants to go through all of THAT again? If you’re lucky, the hair is in the right place, there is no food from a.m. snack stuck in their teeth, and the photographer hasn’t settled for that akward “deer in the headlights” look again. If you have more than one child, hopefully their photos will go well together up on the wall, since school portrait options (to my knowledge) DO NOT allow for sibling portraits. But, we all know how it all usually ends, don’t we?

What if you did things differently this year? What if you decided to make all of that time, effort and money WORTH IT.  Chances are, you’ve considered this option before. What’s holding you back? For many, it’s has nothing to do with anything covered above. For many, it actually comes down to one thing…LOYALTY. We all know that your child’s school benefits from the profits school picture day brings. There’s no question that as we are choking down our regret and writing out our checks many of us are also feeling a sense of pride in the fact that doing so might allow the school to add a field trip or new computer software to the budget. What if you could have the best of both worlds, and help your school without sacrificing a great opportunity to capture the beginning of a new school year in QUALITY photos. I’ll do you one better…what if you could help your school, AND your community, AND come away some AMAZING photos, not only of your child, but of you, your spouse, your other siblings and maybe even your family pet? Yes, now you’re catching on to that highly valued thing called FAMILY PORTRAITS.

Let me make this all a bit easier for you.

Book a Family session with me for FALL 2012 (deposit must be received by November 1st), and I will write a check of my own to your child’s school for $25 to make up for the school photos that well, didn’t make the grade.

For more information about my FALL 2012 portrait session options, visit my SESSIONS page or visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kirstencreightonphotography and make it a new school year to remember!

I would LOVE to hear from you…what do you love/hate about School Picture Day? Speak up by leaving a COMMENT!

Thanks for reading! Kirsten

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