Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A Fifteenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

I know that since you can’t visit schools this spring, you are all probably working from home and finally reading the fourteen previous letters I’ve graciously sent you over the years to help you improve your business model. (Cliff Notes on my last letter, in case you’re super-busy like me: Hiring photographers from the DMV or the passport office would be a great start.)

I’m writing again today not to offer you more amazing and free advice on how to improve your little photography hobby shop over there, but simply to let you know that I’m sad.

I am sad that we can’t be together this spring. I know you feel the same way, because you send me weekly emails expressing the same sentiment. You reassure me that you are here for me in these troubled and unprecedented times.

You remind me that you “love being a place where you can capture memories, stay connected to your loved ones, and build community,” and that “in the midst of COVID-19, and school closings, we will continue to be that place where you can share & connect.”

I mean, I don’t miss you that way. Sure, you have certainly captured some memories for me over the years, but they were mostly memories of how bad you are with hair, shirt collars, food stuck to faces, getting kids to smile, and just general photography of humans.

As far as helping people stay connected to loved ones and build community, I have no idea how you ever did that or plan on ever doing that, but cool.

No, the reason I miss you is because it’s spring, and spring has always been the time when you took pictures of my kids that I never authorized, never asked for in any way, and never wanted at all.

Despite all that, you diligently took spring photos of my boys in their best stained T-shirts and soccer shorts, and promptly printed and sent me reams and reams of pictures that I still hadn’t authorized, ordered, asked for, or wanted in any way.

This spring is special, and the fact that we won’t be together this year is breaking my heart. You see, we’ve been quarantined, and the boys haven’t had haircuts in three months. This year’s spring pictures could have been epic.

I could have bought a “vote for Pedro” shirt for Son Number Two, given him bigger glasses, and convinced him to stare into the camera with an idiotic mouth-breather expression. Uncanny.

We could have put zinc oxide all over Son Number Three’s nose and sent him to school in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt. He has loads of blond hair and he already has a natural dazed look of utter confusion, so it would have been awesome.

Son Number One’s hair has gotten the craziest, so we naturally would have had to go all out with him. His hair is dark and turns out to be curly when grown out, so he has developed a pretty decent afro for a white kid. Money would have been no object.

I would have bought him a yellow number ten soccer jersey and invested in some quality glue-on mustache options to be sure we got the look just right. A trip to the salon to get those frosted blonde highlights just right and maybe perm out those ring curls a little and he would have been amazing.

You surely understand now why I am so distraught. By doing nothing other than paying attention to when picture day was and making sure they were dressed appropriately, you would have automatically provided me with glossy copy after copy of a perfect not-exactly-red-headed Napoleon Dynamite, a pint-sized Jeff Spicoli, and a truly glorious young Carlos Valderrama.

I still wouldn’t have paid you for them, but I would have definitely kept them this year!

I actually miss you. Who woulda thought, huh?

See you in the fall,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. YES! I've been waiting for this open letter. Thank you!!

  2. You are quite welcome! We give the people what they need here at Just a Smidge. (Rarely what they want, but always what they need.)
    Thanks for reading!