Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,
You know, fellas, life is funny, isn’t it? I mean, just when I thought there wasn’t any more advice I could give you about how to improve your thriving picture business, life throws me another photography curveball.
I get the feeling you aren’t reading my letters, so just in case that’s true, here’s where we stand:
I think you’re pretty bad at your overall job of managing the school picture process. Central to that, I think you just kinda suck at taking good pictures of kids. There’s really no other way to say it.
Based on the results we’ve seen over the years from our three boys, I’d guess you land somewhere in the fifty percent range. That’s an F on any grading scale. Unless we’re talking about the elementary school grading scale. We don’t do letters or numbers anymore, so your grade would be “Standard Not Met.” Still sucky.
After thirteen letters to you and one to Shutterfly urging them to back out of their ill-advised purchase of your little photography hobby shop over there, I thought I was just plain out of free advice to give you. Thankfully for you, I was wrong.
You see, as we’ve talked about many times in the past, Son Number One has a bad case of CFSD – Chronic Forced Smile Disorder. Unless you can get him to relax and laugh a little, his camera smile looks like he just stepped barefoot on a pile of Legos.
In your last twenty-one tries - twice a year from his preschool postgraduate year at Transitional Kindergarten all the way until this year in ninth grade - I’m not sure you have ever once managed to get a decent picture of him. Son Number Two and Three seem to have slightly better control of their facial muscles, but you still manage to screw them up quite a bit.
Anyhow, Son Number One is taking a trip soon, and we needed to get his passport renewed. The city of Roseville, CA has a passport office, which turned out to be nice because we didn’t have to go to the post office this time. I don’t know why, but the post office just feels as hopeless as the DMV, but without all the fun people watching.
Anyway, we were happy about the City of Roseville office because they not only let us set an appointment, but they offered picture services as well. We were renewing all three boys’ passports, so it was nice not to have to go somewhere else to get the pictures taken.
I would say that you might be able to see where this is going, but I’ve seen your pictures, so I’m not sure you can see much of anything. I’ll spell it out for you.
A lady who works every single day on a stool at a counter behind a glass wall in a drab and dreary city office building, picked up a handheld digital camera, and against the background of a plain white city office building wall, took three pictures of our boys that are better than anything you have ever been able to produce for us.
She actually took one of the best pictures of Son Number One that we have ever seen. His smile is natural and bright. He looks radiant with joy and brimming with youthful exuberance. The best you have ever done with him is “possibly not constipated.”
So, there it is, Lifetouch. That’s how bad you are. Lifetime government employees in hopeless little square offices take pictures that are a thousand times better than your “professional” photographers can muster. I’m not sure what you can do about that.
I don’t think there are enough city passport employees that you could lure away from the counter, even if you could match that sweet government pay scale and pension plan. There’s probably enough DMV driver’s license photographers out there, which would obviously be a huge improvement to your business model, but you have the whole government pension problem there too.
Maybe you guys could just figure out who trains these city, county, and state photographers who take such amazing identification photos, and lure that training staff away to help with your folks.
I’ll leave it up to you to figure out.
We just can’t wait to send photocopies of our boys’ passport pictures out in the Christmas letters this year!
Copyright © 2019 Marc Schmatjen
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