School pictures. It's been several decades since I had one of them done, but I just had one taken last week for the first time since I became a school employee three years ago.
And believe me, just like almost everything else in our culture, a lot has changed in the school picture business.
For one thing, the picture taking itself wasn't as quick as I remembered the days when I was in school and you barely touched the seat of the little bench before the flash went off and you heard the command "Next!" from the photographer.
This time there was a lady there who helped the subject pose with some combination of the following suggestions: "Sit up straight. Relax your shoulders. Lower your chin. Raise your chin. Look at me. Just a little more. Push up your glasses. Turn your body, but not your head. Now big smile."
And then she got to look at the digital screen, but the subject didn't. I could tell, because it was instant retakes when she didn't think the final shot was what it could be. That's way different than when I was in school, or even when my kids were in school.
I don't remember that we had such a luxury, but when my kids were doing the traditional school pictures there was a retake day each fall when there was the option available to have an unfortunate picture retaken. Otherwise you didn't get to even see your school picture until your packet of pictures was handed out to bring home. Even if the picture was one you didn't really like that year, pretty much everyone in your room had to see it as the teacher handed out the envelopes. And then once you got on the bus there was time for more show and tell with everyone there. That way you got to see pictures of all the kids, even in the other classes.
I do remember that if someone got on the bus with the picture envelope and had turned their picture over so that all that showed in the envelope was the blank side of the picture, it was wise not to ask to see their new picture.
Picture day is fun at the middle school where I am now, because the students are buzzing. They're slicked up and cleaned up and wearing either a) their favorite clothes, or b) their mom's favorite clothes. I never see so many shirts with collars as I do on picture day, especially among the boys. Generally, it looked to me like the girls had put more thought and effort into what they were wearing than the boys did, but then maybe that's not much different than any other day. One of my favorite looks for this picture day was the fifth grade boy who had on a white shirt and tie with his favorite cargo shorts.
I hope that sense of style shows through in his picture this year.