The purpose of school photos has changed, hasn't it?

(144 Posts)
merzeemee Sat 25-Sep-21 10:02:19

When I was a child in the 1970/80's the School Photo was an annual opportunity for a professional shot of me and my brother smiling, sitting still, and looking clean and smart in our uniforms. They were proudly bought, distributed to grandparents, compared from year to year, and fondly looked back on - especially the class photos of familiar faces with gradually forgotten names.

Now I'm a secondary school parent, I see them differently. They're an annual opportunity for the school to get cheap (free?) photos of every child and teacher. The childrens' photos are attached to their records in the school's Management Information System, helping staff to put faces to names. They are also used as profile pictures on school Microsoft accounts, so teachers and students remotely interacting via Teams can see a face rather than just a name. The teachers' photos are put on the wall of a corridor, again to help everyone to put faces to names.

The cost to the school is kept low because the photography firm makes its money from selling copies of the photos to parents, which is fine, so long as the quality of the photos remains high, and parents continue to buy photos.

Unfortunately, I haven't bought my children's individual school photos for the past 6 years, because they are always on an ugly mottled blue background, and I can take nicer pictures myself at home. I don't think the photographer makes any effort at all to take photos that are relaxed or flattering, and they are overpriced. I do buy the group photos, but certainly not every year. (This year the group photo was a clever montage of the whole year group's individual photos - a covid memento we weren't expecting because only individual shots were taken!).

Do you buy your child's school photo every year?

OP’s posts: |
EndoplasmicReticulum Sat 25-Sep-21 10:05:15

I used to, when they were at primary school, as they had great-grandparents who loved getting school photos of their great-grandchildren. Now the great-grandparents are gone and the children are grumpy teens we don't bother. In fact eldest (just started 6th form) tells me he has a copy of the photo in his bag but I am NOT ALLOWED to see it, so not much chance me buying that one!

Blueuggboots Sat 25-Sep-21 10:10:00

Every single year the photographer manages to get the shadow of my son's glasses straight across his eyes....surely it's not hard? When I'm paying £20+ for the photo, I expect it to be of reasonable quality....

CherieBabySpliffUp Sat 25-Sep-21 10:16:18

In the school I work at it’s different, the staff photos are taken in house and the students only have their photos taken in years 7&10.

2anddone Sat 25-Sep-21 10:21:00

CherieBabySpliffUp

In the school I work at it’s different, the staff photos are taken in house and the students only have their photos taken in years 7&10.


Same here! Plus year 12 if they stay on for 6th form. No effort put into taking them at all ds looked proper pissed off in his 🤣

Penistoe Sat 25-Sep-21 10:24:46

Your hypothesis makes no sense. Schools can easily take free photos. My college takes photos of thousands of students during enrolling using a webcam.

picklemewalnuts Sat 25-Sep-21 10:28:09

The school make a lot of money from them. They can be priced differently for each school, so school raises funds. The same photographer provides a range of options the school selects from before parents get involved, according to what they think the parents can support.

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Peccary Sat 25-Sep-21 10:29:15

I'm pleased with reception DD's ones this year, they are taken in the school library . Makes a change to the ones she's had from nursery where we have kept copies of the proofs purely for our amusement at the faces she made.

SaddenedByItAll Sat 25-Sep-21 10:32:31

We used to buy them religiously and as you say they made good DGP presents etc
Now we go to the local studio and get pro quality photos for literally a fraction
Of the cost
Must be a thing now as well as there are always kids in uniform there even over the weekends
I think the school charge something like £25 for the usb or the cheapest pack is £18
The local studio charge something like £6 a photo

621CustardCream438 Sat 25-Sep-21 10:43:42

I think they’re something that would probably never be started now, in the days of cheap camera phones and home printers, but they get done because they always have been. I imagine the school makes some money out of it too and yes, here the photos are used in the school record systems too.

But given I take thousands of photos a year of my children on my camera phone I don’t pay for school individual shots unless they are really good. I’ll buy the class photo in reception and year six, but certainly not every year.

Blankspace4 Sat 25-Sep-21 10:46:06

The original purpose of school photos was to capture your child at a certain age / point in time in days when you genuinely might not have many / any other photos.

In this day and age parents take continuous photos of their kids (and plaster them all over social media….but that’s another story) so I agree the school photos seem less relevant.

However I do think they are the ones that are kept and often of course we don’t print photos from our phones

Macncheeseballs Sat 25-Sep-21 10:46:36

No I think they're shit and a massive rip off

TheRealMrsMorningstar Sat 25-Sep-21 10:48:56

Blueuggboots

Every single year the photographer manages to get the shadow of my son's glasses straight across his eyes....surely it's not hard? When I'm paying £20+ for the photo, I expect it to be of reasonable quality....

My daughter's photos always have light shining on the glasses so I can't see her eyes hmm Really poor quality!

Retrievemysanity Sat 25-Sep-21 10:49:51

I don’t, I’ve never seen the point of them. We have hundreds of photos of the kids, hardly any of us all as a family so if I’m going to pay for a professional photo, I’d rather it be of all of us.

MrsWooster Sat 25-Sep-21 10:52:04

While I think they are a rip off and unflattering, I can’t see the benefit to the school-the sheer hassle of wheeling them all through a formal shoot is awful. If it was simply for ID, there’d be a year manager with a webcam barking ‘NEXT!’ in registration.

lollipoprainbow Sat 25-Sep-21 10:52:17

I used to until we had some where my daughter looked like a waxwork dummy!! I only buy if I like the photo nowadays.

WormYourHonour Sat 25-Sep-21 10:53:48

I refuse to buy them. They cost too much for the work involved in producing them, they're not good value.

A single 10 X 8 in a crappy cardboard frame for £13.50? I could take the same or better and print it myself in Asda and get a nice frame for way less.

When we were kids, no one had a camera so the school photo was like the one time a year we got a photo taken. These days, pocket sized phones have amazing cameras in them so photos aren't really unique anymore.

ArblemarchTFruitbat Sat 25-Sep-21 10:56:21

When I was a child in the 1970/80's the School Photo was an annual opportunity for a professional shot of me and my brother smiling, sitting still, and looking clean and smart in our uniforms.

Yes - there was a point to it when not everyone owned a camera and the cameras that were around, unless you spent a fortune, were not of great quality, and you didn't know whether the pictures were any good until you'd had the film developed, and any duds represented a waste of money.

Nowadays most people have a smart phone with a camera and you can snap away until you get pictures you're happy with.

I'm amazed school photos are a thing.

DobbyTheHouseElk Sat 25-Sep-21 10:56:40

Yes if your child has glasses it doesn’t work. This year I had a reflection of everyone standing watching and the photographers equipment reflected in DC glasses. I wanted to see his eyes, not school staff chatting.

I asked them to refund or correct and they told me they cant. I said you are a professional photographer of course you know how to take photos of people wearing glasses. Ridiculous.

Hardbackwriter Sat 25-Sep-21 10:58:37

I actually think they'd had their day by the time I was in secondary school in the early 2000s. Photos weren't rare anymore then. And they were always done with so little care - no effort with posing, lighting etc - so there wasn't much gained from their 'professional' nature.

Squaffle Sat 25-Sep-21 10:58:51

From a school’s perspective, photo day is a ballache to organise and we certainly don’t make any profit from the photos as someone has suggested above. Yes we do use them on our MIS and Teams etc but this isn’t the purpose of having the photos taken, just an added benefit. Not sure why it bothers you that it’s cheap for the school? Or would you prefer funds to be diverted away from classrooms for this purpose?

Things have changed since the 70’s/80’s and we all have easy access to cameras and can take as many pics as we like. If you don’t want to buy them, don’t!

Antinerak Sat 25-Sep-21 11:01:05

Thankfully the school my nieces and nephews attend have a local photographer take the photos. They're reasonably priced (Around £12 for 8 a5 prints and £10 for 10 passport sized) and the photographer does get paid by the school. The kids have their photos taken by the school for their online records and they were allowed to upload their own photo for TEAMS.

Pascha Sat 25-Sep-21 11:06:15

I've only ever bought reception and year 6 photos, to bookend primary school. Mainly for the grandparents as I can take a nice picture at home in their uniforms myself if I want.

The school has a local photographer rather than a big company, a local woman with kids on the school herself. She does do a good job and it's doesn't cost a fortune.

Honestly though, I won't bother with official secondary school pictures.

Carrotca Sat 25-Sep-21 11:08:12

My child's reception one wasn't great but at least it was a happy smiling sort of one. I know some of the other parents have been unhappy with theirs, there's been growling, roaring, covering the face!! And tongues out, with bizarre back grounds (bright coloured bricks, chalk board effect, bright purple?!) Such a shame x

Freddiefox Sat 25-Sep-21 11:12:20

I also think you can take a good photo with you phone these days, so no need to shell out the money

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