I’ve mentioned before that I have been supplementing my income by doing seasonal work with a national School Picture firm. As I wrote last fall, the job is formula-driven to control costs and ensure consistency. I knew that going in so have always referred to the assignments as “school picture taking” rather than “photography“.
The Fall pictures are used for Student IDs and School Yearbooks. The Spring picture sessions allow a bit more styling, although poses are still quite limited. This Spring I have managed to work with ‘Special Needs’ students quite often and enjoy them the most.
Some of it is simply enjoying a challenge. It is actually pretty easy to get most students to strike the approved poses and smile; even the ones that say they never smile. My special subjects range from wheel-chair bound to those who stand stock still to those who can not be still, at all. Posing sometimes works, other times not so much. Smiles range from subtle ‘Mona Lisa’ looks to huge grins that almost obliterate the rest of the face. Not giving away my secrets here, but I generally get a natural look. Even if that is not the ‘standard pose’.
But the real reason for this post (and the specific title) is the story of one young lady who would not look at me; she said NO! and would only stand facing the background with her back to me. The staff that worked with her told me to take the picture and they would buy one. I of course had to ask for at least some of the story.
I was told that when this student arrived at that school she would not leave her seat during the day and would not express herself in any way. By the time I took this portrait she walked in with the rest of her class, and clearly expressed herself; she was not having her picture taken. At that point I realized that sometimes what I considered ‘mere picture taking’ was, in fact, a true photographic portrait that captured something more.
Realizing that, and perhaps a touch of humility, is indeed a blessing.