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:
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: