parent opinion

“I begrudgingly ordered $130 school photos. They just came and… that’s not my child.”

School photos. Ugh.

Despite the fact that every parent today carries a pretty damn great quality camera around with them 24/7, snapping approximately seven billion photos of our beautiful offspring, when official school portrait time comes around, we still feel obliged to pay an insane ransom (where you’re basically forced by the price list to pick the most expensive option to get “value for money”) to get 30 of the exact same print.

I think it partly boils down to the fact that our parents always bought our school portraits and class photos as mementos of our school years so we feel obliged to do the same (even though we have more photos of our kids than any previous generation), and partly due to FOMO. What if it’s a really good photo and we miss out?

As usual, this year I begrudgingly ordered the photos – class photos, portraits, and a sibling shot – with plenty of extras for the grandparents, aunties and uncles. Aside from being annoyed by the cost ($130 for the two that are at school!), I was a bit nervous because there was no option to view the proofs before purchasing, as there has been in previous years.

Almost four months on, I had completely forgotten about the photos when they turned up. And… that’s not my child. I mean, it is my child, but he’s been so aggressively Photoshopped that he looks like the love child of Lord Voldemort and a lady from an early 90s glamour shot, not the little boy I see every day.

In fact, I haven’t seen this level of airbrushing since Melania Trump’s official White House portrait.

Here is the photo, compared with my unfiltered son.

school photo edit
It's blatantly photoshopped. Images: Supplied.

He has a light and extremely cute smattering of freckles across his nose. HE HAS A NOSE. This is important. It isn’t just two nostrils in the middle of his face. He also has a chin.

To be fair, he doesn’t have the most defined jawline naturally, but it does exist. His neck doesn’t end at his mouth.

I’ll be completely honest with you; at first I thought the extreme face tune was funny. But then I just felt sad that anyone, let alone a professional photographer who deals with hundreds of children’s portraits, feels the need to Photoshop kids.


In some countries (such as France) there is legislation which prohibits the use of Photoshop in fashion magazines and advertising.

In Australia, there is a voluntary code of conduct which aims to do the same. There’s a clear link between the unattainable perfection of Photoshopped images and mental health/body image issues.

Parents don’t want photos of their little ones looking perfect, because they are perfect as they are. When we take a photo, it’s because we want to remember who they were in that moment, and every little freckle, bruise, and scrape is a part of who they were when the flash went off. When you erase these features, you’re telling kids and their parents that they’re flawed, and that they need editing.

This generation of kids are facing enough pressure to be perfect from social media without their school portraits turning it on too.

Do you have an opinion on photoshopping school photos? Tell us in the comments section below.