Picture Day

Posted by jdg | Monday, October 06, 2008 |

I finally took a look at some of the thirty-or-so urgent parent bulletins handed to me last week as I tried to leave the kid's preschool. Turns out this year they are forgoing the traditional school photographer and hiring some talented artistic photographer to come and take natural, less-staged shots of the children in the classroom. Cack! I may not be a talented artistic photographer, but I sure as shit can take photos of my kids that are natural and less-staged myself. See, I don't have a wide-selection of exciting backgrounds or a little wooden crate or a cache of corny jokes to produce smiles. Bring on the unnatural staging! Bring on the portable studio lights, the checklist-style order forms, and the option to buy personalized photo mugs, magnets, and "brag tags" for Granny's key chain! Most importantly, bring on the LASER BEAM BACKGROUND!

When I was a kid, my parents never shelled out that extra couple of bucks it cost to get your photo taken in front of the LASER BEAM BACKGROUND. When I flip through all my former childhood selves awkwardly smiling in bad sweaters before muslin backgrounds of muted blue I still think, "How much cooler would that poor kid have been if he'd looked as though he was interrupted in the middle of a frenzied Photon match or an intergalactic space pirate mutiny?" So last year, when the kid's preschool had a traditional school photographer come in, my first inclination was to look for the closest thing he had to a LASER BEAM BACKGROUND and shove an extra couple bucks in the envelope.

Just another of my petty, irony-soaked rebellions.

I was pretty sure (given how AWESOME those first days of school were going) the photographer would be lucky just to snap a profile of her tear-streaked cheeks and howling maw. But somehow he managed to get her to smile better than I ever could and it looked like they even managed to comb her hair:

Of course, when I saw the composite class photo, I learned quickly enough why my parents always resisted my begging and pleading for the LASER BEAM BACKGROUND. All the other kids in her class were smiling demurely before clouds of blue muslin. And there was my daughter looking like a mischievous leprechaun taunting the local teens tripping their balls off at a Pink Floyd light show. "We keep it classy," my wife said when she saw it.

So I don't know what I'm going to do this year. The other day I was driving with the kids out in the suburbs on our ongoing tour of the region's Ghost Malls (from the backseat: "I don't want to go to another GHOST MALL. . ." then, after ten seconds of thought: "Is this the one where they go to buy colorful sheets?") when I found a ghost mall up in the dregs of Livonia with a still operating early-1980s-era Sears Department Store. My inquiries as to whether they had a portrait studio were met with satisfaction, however the studio itself was lacking in LASER BEAM BACKGROUND inventory.

It's probably for the best, anyway. I mean, she's three. This is what she would do if Olan Mills himself asked her to smile:

[for more LASER BEAM BACKGROUND memories, check out We've Got Lasers]