You know, Lifetouch, I never thought I would need to write eleven separate letters to you, but here we are.
As you know, we broke up with you for fall pictures, so I’m not writing about a problem with my order. There was no order. But after receiving the “you still have time to order” page from you yesterday, emblazoned with Son Number Three’s something-other-than-smiling face on six different fun backgrounds, something needed to be said.
I have tried over the years to help you in many ways. I’ve selflessly shared my time and business knowledge with you. I’ve given you countless nuggets of valuable advice for free, so that you could hopefully begin to see things from a perspective obviously lacking in your organization – that of a human with a brain.
I see now that all my time and effort has been wasted. The 8-1/2 x 11 FujiFilm flyer you just sent me, urging me to purchase beautiful portraits of my youngest son, is glaringly hideous proof that you have not heard a single word I said.
How can I be expected to help you do your job when you don’t even know what it is? You seem to think your job is to sell me pictures of my kids. You are wrong. That is the business you are in. Your job is to take their picture. There’s a difference between the business you’re in and the job you have to do. You can’t survive in any business if you don’t do your job.
I always figured this went without saying, given the business you’re in, but again, here we are. In this country, when people sit down to have their portrait taken, they are expecting to have that portrait actually look like them. It’s their personal choice to smile or not, but inevitably, one hundred percent of them will be expecting to actually see a picture of themselves as the final result.
I imagine by now, you are sensing my issue here, but let me give you some background on Son Number Three just to solidify my point. He is a good-looking kid. And I’m not being an overly proud dad, and I’m not looking at him through rose-colored glasses. Now don’t get me wrong – I think all three of my boys are handsome gents, but Number Three is just flat-out good looking. And so you know I’m not being vain, I’ll tell you he gets it almost exclusively from his mother’s side. He looks just like her father, who looked just like Paul Newman in his younger years.
Our little Paul Newman knockoff has radiant ice-blue eyes and a joyous smile. Neither of those things are apparent in the picture you recently took of him.
Sure, he’s had his past struggles with CFSD (Chronic Forced Smile Disorder), but this issue goes way beyond that. He was one of the CFSD success stories. His last few organized family portraits showed little to no sign of his early issues with the disorder. He has learned to smile for a camera the way he smiles for a joke. You have taken that away from us.
Standing behind the old-timey wooden school chair in the classroom, or the library, or the plain slate gray background, he is squinting like he’s searching for a ship on the sun-glared horizon.
For reasons unknown, his normally room-lighting smile is missing, replaced by what appears to be his facial impression of a rat sniffing for a tasty morsel at the bottom of a Dumpster.
His entire face is squished up, with his lips curled in such a fashion I can envision no other scenario than your photographer asking him to do his best impression of a rodent.
OK, sniff for the delicious garbage. Good! Now curl your lips over your teeth and make the squeaky rat noise. Perfect! Got it. Next.
And a special thanks for the useless free gift at the bottom of this sheet. Your complimentary SmileSafe cards, meant to be an aid to law enforcement in the unthinkable event that my child ever went missing, are completely useless. I would be better off drawing a stick figure of my child and describing his features in Latin to the police than giving them this picture of some random rodent boy. He could be standing next to me when I handed them this picture and they wouldn’t be able to find him.
Tell me I’m wrong, Lifetouch. Give me some explanation, in this age of digital cameras and LCD flat screen TVs, why you couldn’t see how bad this picture was the very second you took it. You have the good-looking happy-go-lucky child right there in front of you. Tell me you could honestly pick him out of a lineup based on the rat picture you just took. I dare you.
The only other remote scenario I can think of that could explain this picture is if you have taken the Americans with Disabilities Act too far and actually started hiring blind photographers.
That would explain this perfectly.
Best of luck,
Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen
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