Unquestionably, those first-day-of-school pictures are a series of images that evoke the passage of time as much as any birthday ever could.
A week from today, students in our area will be heading back to school. There will be bustling to get back in the rhythm of a routine that was dismissed with the final ringing of the school bell in June. Early out of bed, new duds donned, there are struggles for bathroom dominance, debates over breakfast choices, hurried gulps around the tables. Last-minute scurrying to cram lunches et al into backpacks precede the mad dash to buses.
And in the midst of all of that, Moms and Dads are trying to organize the precious back-to-school photo. Caught up in all the scampering, these often amount to little more imagination than shiny, smiling faces. Tots to teens are lined up against suitable backdrops for a quick photo before they tear out the door.
I remember the days. In retrospect, I suppose the photographs I took aren't all that mundane. They were made more interesting by our younger girl's precocious posing, by the incredibly awful fashion choices of the 80s and by the youngest's colourful hair in the 90s. For my part I did strive for some creativity, seeking different places to pose them, adding the odd prop or two.
Generally, though, it was more about catching the moment, preserving the event and having a tangible recollection. Looking back at them is always a welcome break in modern routine. Despite the lack of artistic interpretation, these images are a cherished part of my photo collection.
They're a visual growth and development chart. For example we can see when baby brother started to pass all of his siblings in height. We see his older sister transform from her awkward caterpillar summer to a beautiful butterfly by Grade 8. We know what year her big sister cut off her waist-length hair. We can even see that the solidness, the maturity and reliability of her older brother were always evident.
For these reasons there is no fault to be found in my efforts. They are adequate, enough. But when I look at some of the ideas people are putting forward now, I wish I'd thought of them then.
There is the beginning-of-the-year/end-of-the-year collages, for example. Or the chart of favourites, so that looking back in time will reveal not just the changing appearance but the changing trends and attitude. Just reflecting on what I can remember of the passing fancies within my brood over the years makes me think the latter would have been an entertaining memento.
Since my little granddaughter is starting junior kindergarten next week, I thought I should send some of the examples I've seen along to my daughter. Foolish of me. As an ECE she's already got it covered and has created collages for the first and last days of JK. Besides the requisite picture, the former will include a photo of something our Little Missy loves, what she wants to be when she grows up, her age and her teacher. The latter includes summer plans, what she wants to be when she grows up and the name of her best friend.
In this day and age, finding terrific ideas on the internet for creating the back-to-school keepsake is a breeze. Here's a compilation of a few terrific lists I've discovered:
6 Fun Back-To-School Photo Ideas
25 Must-Take Back-To-School Pictures
iVillage's 10 Creative Photos Ideas for Back to School
9 Fun Ideas for Back-to-School Pics