Do your school photos make you cringe? Professional photographer Linda Russell shares with teachers, parents, and students her tips for creating frame-able -- and embarrassment-free -- school portraits. Included: Printable tip lists for parents and older students.
Most school teachers and administrators dread picture day. Photographing an entire school full of wiggly, wind-blown youngsters is not only disruptive to the academic schedule, but the results of that lost day seem to become more and more disappointing every year.
Linda Russell of MugsyClicks Photography is on a mission to reinvent school photography by bringing local professional photographers into schools to create "portraits worth framing." Her company might not be in your neighborhood yet, but she does have some suggestions to help you make the most of your schools photo day.
Remind students that picture day is tomorrow, and briefly discuss how they can best present themselves for this important photo, one that will be included in their school portfolio -- and given as gifts to family and friends.
Remind students to cooperate with the photographer just as they would with any adult. Explain that "good listeners" get much better photos. One of our slogans at MugsyClicks is, "cheese is a dairy product, not an expression." Don't encourage fake, smile-on-command expressions.
Provide a few suggestions regarding choice of clothes -- simple single-color shirts and blouses work best. Point out that photo day is not the day to wear their Superman or Dora the Explorer t-shirt.
Encourage students to wash their hair tonight so it will be clean and shiny for their photos tomorrow.
Remember to do the same yourself. It's hard enough to watch yourself age in yearly photographs without realizing you forgot to do your hair as well. Remember too to wear a color that complements your eyes, and to stay away from low necklines and busy prints.
Make sure students are clean and neat before they leave the classroom. Encourage them to comb their hair and look at one another to make sure clothing is buttoned properly and faces are free of breakfast.
Remind students once again to be polite and respectful of the photo team, just as they would be with any adults. At MugsyClicks, we teach our photographers to see themselves as part of the educational team, and our intention is help students learn how to be comfortable with a professional photographer. But we also expect them to be courteous and polite. If a student fools around or refuses to cooperate, he or she wastes valuable photography time, which shortchanges our limited time with other students. Supporting good manners benefits us all.
If you accompany students to the photo area, give them a quick once over before they head to the camera to make sure a parent volunteer hasn't straightened Johnny's curls or parted Jennifer's hair on the wrong side.
Do not stand behind the photographer to help get students to smile. That merely confuses the child and slows down the process. Most school photographers are professional kid photographers; you can trust them to know how to elicit the best expression possible.
Send the most confident and easy-going children to the photographer first. They will set an example for the whole class. If you notice a child is particularly nervous or apprehensive, encourage that child to watch the session with you. Narrate your observations to lessen his or her sense of worry. We always find its best to allow those students who are particularly shy a bit more time to watch and understand the process in order to help them feel more confident in front of the camera. If you start with the apprehensive students, it can create anxiety for the whole group.
Don't forget your own photo. Remember to take a quick moment to look in the mirror to make sure you are happy with your hair and no poppy seeds are in your teeth. Relax. Breathe. Trust. Think about the beach, and not about how much you hate picture day. Remember you are doing this for the kids, so they'll remember how much you loved teaching them.
Clothing should complement,
Simple single-color shirts
If your child wears classes that are light sensitive, he or she might need to remove them if photos are taken outdoors because they will read dark in the photo. If your child has a second pair of glasses that do not get dark, please send them to school on picture day.
Non-reflective lenses are best -- no reflections of trees, cameras or playgrounds will show. We use a number of tricks to lessen glare, but sometimes it's impossible.
You might want to ask that your child be photographed both with and without glasses. Please let your child know it's because we don't want glare to get in the way of their beautiful eyes.
Click here for a printable version to send home to parents.
Click here for a printable version to send home with students.
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