School photos 1
06 Dec

School Photographs

In the folder of memories my mom brought over from the States, I found a whole bunch of my old school photographs. You can see them up above, although I admit I left two off the end because I was getting into the – shall we say – awkward stage at that point. I wouldn’t want to scare you.

We all cringe when we look back at school photographs. That hair! Those clothes! (What is that brown shirt with the blue seagull? Seventies, much?) And let’s not forget the backgrounds that look like an Impressionist threw up on a wall.

But the fact is that school photographs are almost deliciously naff. The very elements that make us cringe are the same things that make the images charming. They aren’t supposed to be good. We’re not supposed to look amazing. It’s just a basic portrait, with lighting that’s exactly the same whether you’re chubby or skinny, with smiles that go beyond cheese, and hair that looks like you’ve been waiting your turn in a wind tunnel.

So, next time your kid comes home with some horrid school pictures, order a couple. Put one in a folder to give to your kid in 30 years’ time and, if you really want to torture your child, put the other one in a ghastly frame on your mantelpiece. After all, it’s a rite of passage that every child detests at least one photo that his parents have on display.

And if you still aren’t convinced, watch this short film.

School Portrait (2011) from Michael Berliner on Vimeo.

One Comment

  1. 11 Dec


    At one point, my parents covered an entire wall of our 10ft living room with a timeline of awful school photos of faces only parents could love – awful!

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