When I was in second grade, the photo company that was coming to our school for picture day gave us the option of choosing what pull-down background we would like to have. The choices were as follows: lasers in either green, white, pink or blue, trees, regular blue felt (which probably cost less), Christmas scene and library bookshelves. Obviously, I wanted the library bookshelves, because I was a very classy second grader and probably was planning on wearing a monocle for the photo. My mom wanted the lasers, because it was 1992 and she knew what all the cool kids were going to pick, and was definitely trying to save me from a bully.
You’d think since she was going to pay for these photos she would have won the day here, but I called an audible and told the photographer it was going to be the library background for this girl. And I was the only one who used that background that day. In the whole school. And it ended up being the greatest school photo ever taken. Until now.
Let me give you a little background. This is my godson and cousin, Brett. He’s nine. He goes to a very conservative Catholic school in Westchester County and Vineyard Vines makes their school uniforms (this fact fascinates me). He has an albino frog named Bon Jovi, he can do the worm like no other human on this planet, and he spent the entire summer trying to “pull an all-nighter.” He’s the best.
So I came home from work one day to find this gem on the refrigerator (placed ever so delicately under “Idaho, no U Da Ho” spelled out in magnet alphabet letters). My dad had been down at my aunt and uncle’s house and left with this most precious gift. There’s also an inscription on the back:
Love you guys. Have fun in
retirmentretirement. Go Black Knights.
So cool. So casual. Like he was thinking “ugh, so many people want me to sign my picture today. I’m probably going to have to pull an all-nighter.” He can do that now, so it’s fine.
So let’s break down the mechanics of what makes this picture so great. Here. We. Go.
1. Setting a precedent: Has anyone else seen a standing school photo that wasn’t a senior portrait? When I have kids I will forever request that they be standing, not sitting, not leaning on a branch, for their school picture. They will not have to move their head ever so slightly to the left until it becomes uncomfortable and gaze into the lights of the school cafeteria. No. They’re going to be standing and the picture’s going to be from a low angle so they look tall. But not so low that they have a double chin. My children will be chubby (there’s just no getting around this) and I will know their best angles.
2. Hands in the pockets: I’m in love with the fact that Brett has his hands in his pockets. Like “hey guys. Yeah I’m here for my picture. NBD. Just take it so I can get back to texting peeps. I have a day.”
3. The Spader-effect: I have this thing where I think Brett, at some point during the night of any family function we may be attending, morphs into a younger version of James Spader in Pretty in Pink. It’s like automatically during the course of the night, his shirt sleeves get rolled up, his collar gets unbuttoned and his hair feathers everysoslightly. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but there is no denying the 80s quality of this photo.
4. The background: If you couldn’t already tell from the first few paragraphs, backgrounds are a big deal to me. For some reason, and I could just be making this up in my head, I feel like this is not the normal Catholic school in Westchester background. Call me crazy. I don’t know that there’s a lot of homes in Westchester with rainbow-colored pictures lining the Restoration Hardware living rooms. And this is why this is so amazing. Because Brett doesn’t give shiz. They probably asked him “what color do you want,” and he said “all of them.” And he got it. Because he’s my godson. And he’s amazing