Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Sixteenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

School is only a month away from being over, and we never saw you on campus this year. I think it’s been a year and a half since we’ve seen each other! Surely you have finally had time to read my previous fifteen informative letters to you about your ridiculous business model and your general lack of photography skills. You desperately need to do so, because despite all my efforts to help you, on our last meeting, you actually said to the girl in front of Son Number Three, and I quote, “Oh, c’mon, give me a real smile.”

So as of early 2020 anyway, your hiring practices were still the same as they’ve always been:

Lifetouch: Are you currently breathing?

Unemployed person: Yes.

Lifetouch: Will you pass a background check?

UP: Yes.

Lifetouch: You’re hired.

UP: Umm… you guys heard me when I said I have no photography experience or experience with kids whatsoever, right. I actually thought this was a McDonald’s interview.

Lifetouch: Yep, you’re a perfect fit!

You’ve had a lot of free time and now that you’re owned by Shutterfly, surely you all have seen some of the pictures other people take to put in photobooks, on coffee mugs for grandma, mousepads, etc. You have to realize by now that it’s possible to take good pictures of children actually smiling. So, I assume you’ve spent the last eighteen months studying up on photography techniques, how to get children to genuinely smile, and what all the buttons do on your cameras, right?

No? Didn’t think so.

Here’s the crazy part, and the reason for my letter today. People with a phone that doubles as a camera (or the other way around, really) are able to take fantastic pictures of their smiling selves by just holding the device at arm’s length.

Do you realize what that means for you, the “professional photographers?” If people with a phone can take a better picture of themselves than you can of them, which you have proven time and time again to be the case, then that automatically invalidates the “professional” in your name.

It’s like going to a restaurant and paying $37 for a piece of burnt toast and the only jelly available is marmalade. We can make fantastic toast at our own homes for basically free, and we have a wide array of jam, jelly, and preserve options in our own refrigerators.

What I’m saying is, as far as photography goes, you make overpriced, crappy toast.

So here’s my new idea for you: Eliminate your photographer problem with the new Lifetouch Selfie App. On school picture day, kids will grab their cell phones and take selfies, then upload the one they want to your app. The school photos would then magically show up at their houses, printed on the fun glossy paper you guys have with the cool swirly blue school picture background automatically added in.

Photographer and COVID problems solved all in one little app. You’re welcome. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Although, based on your previous track record, you will probably try to charge $39.99 for the app, it will freeze up and fail on Android devices, and only print pictures in sepia, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

I will leave it with you and your app developers to handle the details, but I’m thinking your tagline could be, “Reach out and Lifetouch yourself!”

Or, maybe not.

Best of luck,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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