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Wednesday, 19 June 2013


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Much better.

All's well that ends well.
A pleasant exercise in political correctness.
The kid seems to really like his photo taken.

Still not well balanced photo.

"Lifetouch ... said ... the composition wasn't done according to the training their photographers receive."
I'd guess that most of the training their photographers receive is how to move things along as fast as possible to get as many jobs done as possible and bring in as much revenue as possible to keep prices as low as possible. American (and Canadian) business at its finest.

Other than the very obvious 'barrel distortion' from the lens used... : ) it's a vast improvement over the original attempt. My younger brother Rick Boris had cerebral palsy and these same 'wheelchair ostracism' issues throughout his too-short life. But he was cheerful and full of life despite, and it's nice to see society's "view" finally changing in this regard.

What's the ethics behind not showing the other pupils' faces? Wouldn't Miles' classmates who are TOP readers resent him for this?

It isn't political correctness, it is respect and consideration for others. If the photographer had stopped and thought about how the boy would feel about being set apart, the original photo would not have been taken.

Gee, now that the parents got their way they seem to have moderated their tone. Interesting.

I am very touched. Anyone remember the scene in "Legends of the Fall" when Brad Pitt returns home and his father, played by Anthony Hopkins, having suffered a stroke scribbles the words "am happy" on a chalkboard? Always brings a tear to my eyes. I got to work with Anthony Hopkins once and told him how wonderful this scene is, and he thanked me and told me he had never seen the movie because he can't stand watching himself in movies. A true artist I'll tell you.

Great to see it redone.
With today's 16-24mp cameras, it looks like was taken with 1970's point & shoot with ASA 400 film?

[No, actually it was reduced to Web size, emailed, printed on an office printer on 20-lb. bond paper, scanned, Photoshopped, rephotographed, reduced in size, emailed, posted on the Web as a thumbnail, screengrabbed, and then reposted.

Explicating photographs so you don't have to, --Mike]

Glad to see they made a more inclusive shot.

Good thing they camouflaged the entire class with that wall in the back. I can understand the school's decision to look for a new vendor.

It's a much better picture!

Dear Steve,

It's called being a gracious winner.

A bit of manners distressingly few people have learned these days.

pax / Ctein

The parents had a point, and I'm glad the photo was redone. However, I am concerned that "trial by Internet" is becoming a way for anyone to get their way. Associate yourself with a worthy movement or cause, cyber-scream bloody murder at how cruelly you have been wronged and discriminated against, and watch the sparks fly. The problem is that angry people on the Internet constitute a mob, and mobs are not known for dispensing fair justice. Sometimes they even kill people.

And what of the photographer? Does he or she still have a job, after his company's PR spin blamed him? Given that the principal mentions prior complaints about the company's photographers not taking enough time with class photos, the photographer may have done exactly what he/she was trained to do.

Too much bokeh, should have used a smaller aperture to get the faces all in focus.

Quote "....the principal of Herbert Spencer Elementary School had already decided to find a new company for class photos because of several pre-existing complaints from teachers that the photographers weren't taking enough time with the class photos"

Says it all really.

There should be a corollary to, "nobody cares how hard you worked." Something like, "nobody cares how tight your schedule was." Tight deadlines and clients with busy schedules are facts of life, but if the photograph reflects haste, then it doesn't work.

Lifetouch has large marketshare for class photos. But before we blame a faceless corporation consider that school districts are also faceless corporations when it comes to contracting tasks like this.

They need the task to happen and for classes to resume, and won't expend the time interviewing and reviewing whatever a local photog might do. Lifetouch and others like them already have the packages and ordering system/choices ready to go. This ain't art; at best it's documentation and always has been.

For my last two kids' individual portraits they make it very easy to buy: they don't send proofs home and make you wait for an order. They send finished portraits, and several copies at various sizes and layouts. Keep what you like and send payment and the copies you don't want back.

So I'm actually not condemning either entity but nor am I claiming situations like this aren't fixable.

And yeah, throwing the photographer "under the bus" was not just bad form, but probably a lie. Do they really have training materials that say what should be done if a kid's in a wheelchair?

Horrible background on the re-do. And I wonder if the mother would have complained if a 5-minute Photoshop job was done, as the earlier commenter here did. No ostracization when everyone's together, wheelchair or not. Nobody, not even the kids, would have ever known. No harm, no foul IMO.

I just think "Herbert Spencer Elementary School" is such an awesome name for a school!

As an ex-school photographer who worked for a national company, I have a several comments:

1) Is the original photo still available to view?

2) The reason the school gave for changing vendors is false. The SCHOOL tells the photo company how much time to spend on each shoot. Photographers who cannot meet the deadlines are let go (as they should be, this is not art, it's science, and mostly the science of child psychology). To my knowledge, the only complaints teachers ever make are that the photographer took too much time. The teachers do not care if the company can sell the photos to the parents. They just want to return to the classroom.

3) To poster "BH", what makes you think the photographer chose the background? Normally, the school principal assigns the location--especially if it is indoors.

4) Local school photographers work under exactly the same time constraints as the big companies. Sometimes a local has more experience than a new hire from one of the big guys and thus can work a little faster. But my boss was a former owner of a local school photo company and he kept us moving as fast as anybody. Certainly fast enough to take contracts away from Lifetouch.

5. At first glance I spotted at least four mistakes the lab would have complained to my boss about. But after reading Mike's article I see that one of those was NOT a mistake. How many times did I yell, "Front row: Feet together-Knees together-Hands in your laps-Look at the camera-SMILE." But now I know why Miles did not comply.

6. Yes, school photography companies do have procedures (or suggestions) on file about how to pose students in wheelchairs (and much else!). In fact, they have enough instructions on file so that it takes a few weeks, sometimes even a few months, to become a pro. Especially since most training is on-the-job. Had this particular photographer been trained in those procedures? Who knows. Was it his or her first day or week on the job? Who knows? And don't forget, the teachers will often over-ride the photographer's decision about where to position a special-needs student.

6. Oh my, there is so much more I could say about this photo and about school photography. But I will stop here and let myself sink into the warm embrace of nostalgia. Once again I will drift back to those long-ago times when I would awaken at 0400am, load up, drive 100 miles to a school, check in with the principal's office to find out where to set up, unload, set up, and at 0800am sharp yell out, "Listen Up People!" All for $12.00 an hour.

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