Our town has this amazing family photographer who takes beautiful photos. We hired her to take all of our children's pictures when they were five and I have those portraits hanging in our family room. I've always considered it a mark of a great community, that our elementary schools use this photographer to take our children's yearly school photos. How special is that - to have your photo taken by a local artist instead of the usual, big-box-store-like company with the fake backgrounds and the cheesy man who tells you to tip your head to the right and lift your chin to the left... until you are posed so strangely that smiling is out of the question? School photos are jokes for a reason.
But our sweet town bucked the trend and hired a local mother who snapped her shots outside, in natural light. She wasn't a stranger at all. Many of the children she photographed at school, were neighbors or prior clients and she knew many of them by name.
Guess what happened at our school this year? Can anyone take a guess?
Last year, someone grumbled about the price charged by the local photographer. Maybe more than one person grumbled about the price... because a questionnaire was sent around to all the school parents and most of the questions were along the lines of "Rate how important a low price is, when buying school photos?"
Now, I'm all for saving money and I wouldn't say that price isn't important to me, but quality and helping out a local business person is just as important as getting a good deal. The same sort of grumbling happened at our last school and one year, they tried out a big-box competitor. The photos were terrible and they cost just as much as our local woman. There was absolutely no savings, and I promptly threw the photos into a drawer and never looked at them again.
Think I'm exaggerating? Here's the proof:
The above photo of Henry was taken the year that our previous school decided to try a more "competitive" photographer. Pretty drab and dismal, no?
And here is Henry two years later, when the same school went back to using the local photographer:
Pretty amazing, no?
Our current school sent out the photo forms last week and I saw, to my horror and disgust, that the photo committee had hired that same big-box competitor. Sigh.
I wrote my check and bought the smallest package I was able. I know I'm not going to want the photos that we get back this year.
I took my own photos of the girls before they left for school on picture day.
Georgia is still having some issues with her forced smile. Taking a photo of her in her natural habitat provided a more genuine smile:
I'm so sad about the school photos. I feel badly for the local photographer who might have been counting on that income. I feel badly for the parents who thought they were getting a better deal and have now realized that the lower prices just aren't there. These same parents are going to be horrified when they see the quality of the photos. We had such a great thing going and now it's come to an end.
I hope people change their minds. I hope they re-hire the local photographer next year. I've already heard from two parents that they thought the prices from the new company were higher than the old. I was able to mention that our old school hired this company and I was disappointed with the photos. Maybe they've improved in the last few years? I hope.
Or maybe I don't.