Picture Day is the biggest scam going in public schools today. It’s tyranny by the photo studios, abetted by school administrators, and foisted upon mind-numbed parents who will mechanically fill out any form that comes home via backpack. The pictures are almost never any good–just check out badyearbookphotos.com. In my house, we routinely forget to mark Picture Day on the calendar, so my kids are invariably wearing holey t-shirts and cowlicks. And the array of available packages and options–16 wallet size or 32 trading size? retouching? blue or purple background?–is incomprehensible. The only good reason I can see for purchasing school pictures is so your child won’t feel left out when the photo packets are distributed in class–a parental insecurity the studios have no qualms exploiting.
In fact, the studios are making such a killing they now extend “Picture Day” to sports teams; while a team photo is generally included for free with registration in any given league, for an exorbitant fee parents can order individual photos, trading cards, even bobbleheads of their young athlete, in full uniform, posed before a fake backdrop of The Professional Stadium in Your City. I finally learned to just say no: when my 8-year-old daughter’s basketball team had its Picture Day this winter, I restrained myself from following the other parents to the table where they dutifully filled out forms with little golf pencils and wrote big checks for photos–and stickers! and key chain attachments!–they will probably never use. My little Rondo was the only player on her team not called for a close-up. I started to waver, but then remembered the stack of photo envelopes shoved in a kitchen drawer, the pictures still uncut. Bless her heart, my daughter just shrugged and insisted she only wanted a team photo anyway.