I have hated school portraits for so long--first because it was a ridiculous $40 for one 8X10 and a class picture, but mostly because my kids always looked ridiculous and nothing like themselves. The photographers weren't even TRYING to get a genuine smile out of my kids, let alone something truly beautiful! The object is documentation, and that's it. Maybe back in the day when I was a kid and we weren't running around with cameras on us at all times, that was important. But why we have continued to use studio portraits with one shot and ridiculously-priced prints is beyond me. One of my instructors recently gave me the idea of doing fine art portraits for schools. There's just NO reason we should have to settle for one pose with an ugly half-smile that doesn't look like our kid in this day and age! It only takes me 1-2 minutes to get a genuine smile or a beautiful serious look out of a kid, no matter who they are or what their age. I don't remember a time when I have failed at that during a session.
So I thought I'd give them a little test with my own kids who are notoriously hard for me to photograph. And as you probably know by now, I am not a fan of (or any good at) studio light or backdrops, but I just got a pop-up plain black portable backdrop and used natural window light, and treated these portraits just like I would individual shots during a family session. And seriously, friends, I love them all! They look like MY kids, they were super fast and easy, and they are something I would not mind framing. (And I probably will!)
I'm doing my Nora's preschool class portraits this year, and I am going to offer these portraits to my Ethan's charter school next year for my volunteer hours (I hope they take me up on it, because I never get CLOSE to the 40 hours I'm supposed to do!), and maybe from there, I'll see if any other schools are interested. I'm sure it could be hard to break into the public school district, but there are plenty of charter and private schools around here that may appreciate having something better than the usual standard portraits. Friends, I'm not in this for the money--I'll probably have a pretty inexpensive digital package for parents to dowload with 3-5 images. I'm in it to change school portraits! Hideous photos no more!!