Thursday, November 5, 2009

Retake Day. Same as Last Year. I swear every year that I am not going to buy school pictures? I DO take that oath, each and every year, and yet I still submit myself to the torture that is school photography. Today is retake day. I sent notes with my boys to give to the photographer with explicit instructions regarding smiling or not smiling.

Because without fail, every single year, I get a picture that looks like this:

Now, I'm no genius, but does that look like a natural smile to you? I'm just sayin that common sense would tell a picture taker that Mom probably isn't going to want to pay the obscene amount of money she just paid for a fish face, forced smile. And I know the job is hard, I WAS a school photographer for about 6 months. I went around doing high school pics, which is even harder than grade school, because they actually CARE how they look, which makes the process very time consuming! I've watched girls reapply their entire face with a compact mirror while everyone in line waited because one eyelash was pointing the wrong way! "ALRIGHT ALREADY! It's just a shcool picture! To top it off? I got assigned to some of the alternative schools. The school where the "bad kids" went. It was like taking mug shots at a prison. I'd ask them to smile and they'd stare at me like I just said the last words I would ever say again. It was a little scary.

I figured if I was gonna die taking future death row inmate pics, I might as well have some fun, so I decided to mess with them a little. Might as well go down swingin', yes? So an inmate student would sit down, and I'd do the "Say Cheese" or "Smile!" thing and Barrio Brotha would stare back at me in all his coolness. So then I'd say something like "What's your mom gonna say when you show up with this picture lookin' all serious like that?" Some of them would grin and SNAP! I'd get the pic. Some of them would just get angrier. Then it dawned on me that maybe some of these kids had "issues" with their moms. Like war memories. I suddenly pictured Norman Bates from Psycho and I decided maybe I didn't want to die that day after all, so I tried some new tactics. Anyway, you get where I was going, right? Ya gotta be creative!

My best experience? Was at one of the "bad kid" schools. There was this kid who looked like he came right out of East LA. He was all attitude. He tried to go all gansta on me the minute he sat down.

Him: "Yo. Ima put my hood up for this pic."
Me: "Sorry dude, school rules. No hats, no hoods, gotta keep the face uncovered."
Him: "Man, that's whack. This place sucks. Whatevah."
Me: "Dude, yer a nice lookin' kid. Why you wanna cover your head up anyway?"
Him: "I ain't no kid."
Me: "You're like 10 years younger than're all kids. It's just a phrase, guy. Relax."
Him: "My name's not Guy."
Me: "Also just a ready?
Him: "Yeah...let's do dis." (Poses like a gangsta.)
Me: "Really? This is what yer gonna take home to mom?"
Him: "She don't care. It's cool. Just take the picture."
Me: "Dude, I would, but you have a little booger hanging on your nose...right there."
Him: "Oh sh*t! For reals?" (Starts wiping his nose)
Me: "No man, just kiddin' with ya." (He looks up and grins...SNAP! Got the picture!)
Him: "D*mn! I can't believe you just did dat! That's cold! (he's totally laughing now)
How you gonna do somethin' like that to me? How's my picture? Can I see?"

Homeboy ended up being my assistant for the day. We had some really great pics that afternoon. He was actually this really hilarious person. Some of the guys were hard core and wouldn't give up a smile for love nor money. But we got the majority of them. My assistant was awesome. He sent a letter to the photography company saying his mom cried when she saw the portrait. She said that was the happy son she had missed so much. Right on.

Why am I sharing this story? Well, originally I was just griping about crappy school pictures. Then it kind of morphed into this whole "if I can do it, anyone can" thing, which morphed into "you never know how your efforts might affect someone else." So...take whatever message you need to from this post and pray that our retake day will be successful. Otherwise, I SWEAR! I will never buy school pictures again. Until next year.


Lynette said...

Great made me smile, THANKS!

Karen said...

Just found you through Sportsmama. Great post! I love that you interacted with the kids - egads the photographers nowadays! It's like an assembly line of stupid.

Suzanne Barker said...

What a great story! You're an awesome writer!

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