School Photos


I got to take the school photos for Mustardseed’s school. This amounted to close to 3,000 shots in 2 days. For only 111 students, ha! I was completely exhausted at the end of both days, but also really satisfied. I guess I should state that I’m not a professional photographer. I don’t even consider myself a good amateur. I just thought it would be nice for the kids to have a memento of their year, so I suggested it. Then, of course, I got all nervous that it was going to be a complete disaster, so I hyperventilated and then looked up poses and some videos on outdoor portraiture and slept barely at all.


I’m so pleased with how they turned out. I may be deluding myself, but I think they actually look like something a family might want to frame and put on their wall. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was a little nerve-wracking making sure I was reading the light right and using my settings to good effect, but I just compensated for my insecurity by taking many, many shots of each kid. (Something has to turn out, right?)


I’m really proud of the photos, given my limited experience, but the best part was getting to know Mustardseed’s schoolmates better. I got a few minutes with each of them and make small talk. I found out one is recording an album and plays several instruments. Another is off to college next year. One girl can swim the length of a pool and back in 26 seconds. One boy spent weeks helping his younger brother learn lines for the school play. Many of the kids were warmer and so much politer than I realized or assumed. (Shame on me!) And of course, some usual teen insecurities were on display, but also—maybe because of that—a tenderness, vulnerability, and beauty in each of them.  I’m not really the kind of person to get all sentimental, but I mean it.


My memories of school photography are not the best. I’ve never been photogenic, the kind of person that knows how to appear most flattering in a photo. When I was in school, you got one snap and that was it. You never got to preview the photos or pick your favorite. I’ve got some doozies that ended up in the yearbook. Everyone from my generation does. It built character…or something. So it was fun to make it a positive experience for them, letting each kid see the photos on the spot and see how good he or she can look. If I had had to do it with a film camera instead of digital, I’d have gone bananas. God bless those poor photographers who had to capture entire schools of squirmy, awkward kids, never knowing what would develop!


It was also really fun taking Mustardseed’s school picture. We did have a little trouble with a bee. It hadn’t bothered anyone else all day. That may have something to do with the fact that Mustardseed’s hair smells like a lush tropical forest with all the product she puts on it. All in all, I think she turned out beautifully.


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