Why I Refuse to Buy School Photos

My kids recently came home with forms for me to fill out, as they often do. School photos. I don’t know why they bother asking for permission because they take the photos of your kids regardless.



I had a look at the proofs (above), took a photo with my phone, and tossed the forms away.

I’m a terrible mother. I don’t buy school photos.

My mum did. There is a drawer in her house jammed with stacks of school photos. In each one, my siblings and I are sitting in front of a fluorescent blue or green or brown backgrounds (or, in the ’80s where there were gasp! splatter-painted backgrounds) with strange half-smiles plastered on our faces. Shoved in drawers, because no one ever wanted to display them.

Also, we used to get all of the wallet-sized photos to exchange with our friends like they were baseball cards. Tell me I’m not the only one who remembers this. “Dear Ali, Don’t ever change, Love Rachel” written on the backs of them. I had a wallet full of terrible photos of my friends.


I love the class photos, and I have each one tucked away in my Mama filing cabinet. But I just can’t bring myself to spend money on the portraits. The cheapest package costs $25 and that only buys you the weird plastic photo key ring that seems made exclusively for grandparents (who are stuck In the ’80s). You really have to go up to about $40. And if you spend $50, you can get a free calendar that you’ll never use!

Do you know how many coffees I can buy for 50 bucks?

I am a photographer. I take wonderful pictures of my children that capture their real personalities. I take pictures of them laughing and singing and smiling and frowning and giggling and yelling.

I take super cheeseball photos of the first day of school:


Their lives are documented. Trust me, their lives are over-documented. Your kids’ lives probably are too.

There are plenty of photos of my kids from dot to now. And there will be plenty more.

And none of them have hard flashes, uncomfortable poses, and turquoise backgrounds. And if they really want, I can print them some wallet-sized shots to hand out to all of their friends.