Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Murky Socio-Economics Of School Pictures

It’s time for the annual emptying of the checking account that comes under the guise of School Pictures.  It’s not that we don’t want pictures of our kids, it’s just that we don’t want a lot of pictures of our kids.  Buying school pictures is like paying for twenty gallons of gas and only getting to put five gallons in your tank.

“Only buy what you want,” the uninitiated may say.  I scoff.  It’s IMPOSSIBLE to buy what you want.  The economic geniuses behind the available packages know exactly what you want; therefore, they construct said packages to include “almost” what you want.  This forces you into either buying a package that includes things like a diamond encrusted picture frame, or relegates you to the dreaded a-la-cart section, where an extra 5x7 can require a hardship distribution from your 401(k).

This year we have a choice of seven packages.  At the low end is the “Entry” package, which should be called the “entry package for parents who don’t care about their child” because the only photo you get is a Polaroid picture they take when your kid is in line.  At the high end is the “Ultimate” package which includes a hologram image of your child beamed onto the roof of your house. 

This is Sally, before her parents ruined her
There are all sorts of add-ons and special offers available.  But the one I find most compelling is the “Premium Retouching” option.  For $12 you can have your child’s photo “retouched”, and for free you get to ruin any semblance of self-esteem they may have.  “Sally, remember how we couldn't use you in the family Christmas picture last year because of the acne and yellow teeth?  Well, we are going to get your school pictures retouched!  Finally, a picture that won’t be embarrassing!”  If you think your child won’t be bringing that up in therapy in a few years you are mistaken.

We settled on the “Value” package which means one of the grandparents is getting downsized to a 3 x 5.  I was pulling for the “Family” package only because it sounds like we are truly invested in our kids.  “Oh, we always get the Family package.  It’s just so us!” 

The pictures will show up in a few weeks.  We will liberate the few that we need and relegate the balance to a drawer.  If they don’t fit, we can douse them in that extra fifteen gallons of gas and set it on fire.  Maybe that will drown out that annoying hologram on my snobby neighbor’s house.


Anonymous said...

Nice. While saving for a college education, I always say - save for therapy too. No matter what you do, the boys are gonna need it.

Anonymous said...

In years past it used to be just one set of photos for the year. Now it photos for the fall and spring. Like they change that much in four months. Wait until you have a senior and you need a special senior photo session. Personally an iPhone photo shipped to Walgreens works as well.

Anonymous said...

The sports photos do the same trick, but then throw in the fridge magnet pictures to make you feel better.

FreshGreen Kim said...

And not to mention every team or activity they also participate in offers a chance to empty your wallet. Oh here's my child with a trumpet, sweaty clothes, dressed like a spoon (for the play), and waving a flag. And if you look far up in the corner of that group picture in the second to last row, 3rd kid in, you can see the top of her head.

But we line up like lemmings.

hotfire said...

So it is fair to say we all feel like we are getting screwed.

Unknown said...
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Melissa said...

So absolutely true. Picture day in our district is Wednesday (I think we may be close neighbors, perhaps?) and I'm already getting pleas for the retouching option from the daughter. Oy.

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