Okay, maybe it’s just me, but when our family was considering homeschooling, weighing the pros and cons, one thing I seriously felt some mix of sadness and concern about was school pictures.
You know, school pictures. The obligatory portraits taken either in the spring or fall. The ones your mother filled up a little schoolhouse picture frame with from each year. Remember school picture day? You agonized over what you’d wear. It must be cool; this is the lasting monument to your second grade style. (I actually remember more about what I thought was cool and what clothes I liked because of my school pictures.) So you’d spend extra time and attention getting ready for school that day, but by the time second period rolled around your hair was flat and you had that been-at-school-today look.
You’d anxiously wait your turn in line. Some poor kid had to hold the card that said who’s class it was. Then you’d each take your turn while the photographer told you to say “Money” or “Boys” but of course that wouldn’t make you smile. That was dumb.
Then one day, when you’d forgotten all about it, the pictures would arrive. Everyone would hide them at first, but eventually someone had to start showing. Then you’d get to see who had blinked, who made a dumb face, and who was surprisingly photogenic.
Soon, everyone would begin sharing the “exchanges”. That’s what the order form called the teeny ones that you wrote notes on the back of and passed to your friends. “Jess, you’ll always be my friend. See you later. LYLAS.”
Does anyone else remember that? Love You Like a Sister. And it was the sign off for every note.
Ahh, good times. Even some not so good times, like the fourth grade photo that my mother insisted I retake. And retakes were the day after I had my bangs permed. Yes, the bang perm. Recorded forever in my fourth grade photo.
But the point is, they’re all memories. Bound up in school portraits.
Would my kids miss out on some greater cultural understanding if they didn’t have that shared experience?
Probably not that big a deal, I decided. But it would be nice to have something to document the passage of time. Something more formal than Christmas morning photos, birthday candle blow-outs and the occasional goofy real-life shot. (Who am I kidding, I take pictures at least once a week.)
That is why I was thrilled to hear that our homeschool co-op was planning a school portrait session. Hooray! All the homeschoolers will get to experience that milestone.
I was even more thrilled when I was asked to be the photographer. Today was picture day. Looking over their pictures, I have never had such a fun day of photography! It was probably the most relaxed school picture shoot in the history of school pictures. Of course, I made some of the requisite dumb photographer jokes. But I don’t recall ever seeing the photographer bob and weave to avoid raging honeybees before. But no one was stung. And most of the smiles look genuine. I don’t think we’ll have anyone needing to hide their picture packet or take retakes on perm day.
If you do choose to homeschool, or if you are currently educating ’round the kitchen table, do make some permanent record of the experience.
Maybe schedule a formal sitting at a portrait studio. Or get together for a casual session with a photographer. OR just dress your kids nice on the first day of school and take your own pictures of them ready for a new year.
Last year, I photographed my little kindergartener counting her crayons during math class. Those photos became our first homeschooling scrapbook layout.
I know it’s not a big deal, but sometimes its the little yearly rituals we remember the most.