Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Seventeenth Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

I really have to give you some credit.

“For our photography skills?” you ask, hopefully?

Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. You’re horrible at the photography part of your photography business.

No, I have to give credit to your branding team for their self-awareness. (I’d like to think my previous sixteen letters may have guided them a bit, but there is still no actual evidence that you have read any of them.)

Son Number One just started his senior year of high school, and senior portraits for the yearbook are required to be completed by September. Your branding department obviously knew “Lifetouch” would never be able to secure the coveted senior portraits contract. You’ve done too much damage over the years.

There’s a three-mile-wide path of food-on-face, jacked-up shirt collar, torqued hair, forced smile destruction in your wake. The damage you have inflicted on the refrigerator doors of innocent parents and grandparents over the years is incalculable.

But you couldn’t just let another company – perhaps even a photography company that hires actual photographers – swoop in and steal all that business. So what did you do? You gave them a fake name, just like my wife did to me the first time I met her. Genius!

I’m sure after minutes of thought, you landed on “Prestige Photography.” Sounds legit. Sounds classy. You were probably even fairly sure ‘prestige’ was a real word, even if none of you knew what it meant.

Since you don’t hire actual photographers, you were able to severely lowball the competition and you landed the contract. Congratulations! Smart business move.

Unfortunately, however, you can only put so much lipstick on a pig, as it were. Your Prestige website to set up my appointment was just as wonky as its Lifetouch cousin, and I especially enjoyed the appointment reminder emails I received once a day literally every day for the seven days prior to the session, yet not one the morning of the actual day. Go figure.

As I have shared with you numerous times in the past, Son Number One was tragically born with CFSD (Chronic Forced Smile Disorder). His natural impulse in front of a camera is to make a face like he just caught his pinky toe on the bed frame. Because of that fact, my wife made me go with him for his senior portrait session, as comic relief, in hopes of getting a genuine smile for at least one of the pictures. “Prestige Photography” was cleverly disguised as a real studio, complete with multiple sets sporting various backgrounds that high school kids love, like gaudy Victorian living room, and yellow swirly wall.

It looked so professional in fact, that I was almost lulled into a false sense of security. That was until the costume lady put him in a tuxedo jacket that was roughly six or seven sizes too small and said, “Great.” It honestly looked like she might have been going for a “look how much I’ve grown since the fifth grade” thing.

I got the jacket issue fixed only to discover the tuxedo shirt was a complete fake. It was just the front of the shirt with fake buttons, held in place by a Velcro collar. Typical. And don’t even get me started on the graduation “gown.” It only went down to his waist!

I lost my focus again after the pictures had started, mainly due to a vexing Wordle situation, but I was snapped back to reality when I heard a concerning statement from the lady holding the camera. (I cannot in good conscience refer to your employees as “photographers”). She said, “I love these smiles.” I was off to the side without a very clear view, but I immediately knew his CFSD was flaring up. I have enough experience with your company to know what you consider to be a great smile.

I think I cracked off enough one-liners and stupid comments to get a real smile out of him. The only problem was my jokes were really landing with the lady holding the camera. She was laughing the whole time, so I’ve got my fingers crossed she managed to hold the camera steady.

Probably not, though. I have no way to tell, since you haven’t yet taken the very simple and obvious step of projecting the pictures to a monitor somewhere in the room so that parents can approve them on the go.

I mean, I know that kind of logical idea is well out of reach for Lifetouch, but I expected just a little more from a company called “Prestige.”

Can’t wait to see the proofs!

Yours always,



Copyright © 2022 Marc Schmatjen


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