When Schools Shouldn’t Photoshop…

When Schools Shouldn’t Photoshop…

First, I have an obligation, both written in the rule book of the company I work for as well as morally, to say that my opinion is not representative of anyone I work for.  Not that it’s necessary in this case, but that I only represent myself here, and my opinion is reflective only of that.

Second, take a few minutes and visit the link.  I promise I’ll wait – I have to if you’re going to understand what I’m talking about.

Done?  Good.  

For those who didn’t take the time to read:  Students are angry that the school photoshopped some of the pictures to cover them in more modest clothing.  (Go back and read it…)

Over the last few years the use of Photoshop in schools has grown tremendously   Sometimes this works well:  Schools who understand what they are doing can create and control what comes out without too much modification or headache, and the results can be real impressive.  Often, however, especially in the schools with less experience with it, the school creates a semi-stable job security for me, one of the photoshop fixit guys.

The headaches on my end, however, are nothing compared to the ones students have when they get what they paid for, and when that bad photoshop job hits the headlines like this – Well, that’s when we begin to understand why we sign clauses preventing us from posting into the larger media commenting as representative of our companies.  WE WANT to give you the product you paid for – but we’re limited to what the school wants to do.

I understand, and in some ways, agree with the school’s reasoning for dress-code policy:  When you look back 10-20 years after, you don’t want to be ashamed of how you looked.  However, there’s a lot of negative to tackle, and the school did a poor job on handling the issue.

First, I’m in agreement with what one girl said in the video:  The school should have given warning to this effect back on picture day.  No one likes being caught off-guard when they or their parents are paying for it, and since none of them were given the opportunity to go and change prior to their photo, they have a good reason to complain.  Part of giving someone the opportunity to do right means giving them proper warning beforehand.

Second, While other people may disagree, nothing I had seen in the photos displayed needed to have a black T-shirt added.  The closest one was the girl whose bra straps were showing, and even then that would be debatable.  Nothing I had seen was rude, crass, or illegal, and no one was bearing any body parts.  While I could see either a request for or them covering up something such as “God Hates Fags” or “I’m a Dirty Slut,” that wasn’t the case here – it was if a girl showed some of her chest or shoulders.  That’s a little ridiculous.

Finally, the way the school is handling this is completely wrong – they’re trying to justify themselves as right!  “Right” would be making sure everyone knows both the rules and the consequences for breaking them.  “Right” would be NOT altering those photos without permission.  “Right” would be treating everyone equally, as the article claims they failed to do.  The school has no business claiming they were in the right.

What the school SHOULD DO is to reimburse every student whose photo was altered – and if they can, see about a reprint of the book with the offending photos replaced with the the non-school-altered photos.  They should also change their policy for handling school portraits next year, with the parents AND the students getting full information on what is acceptable and accompanying consequences BEFORE the photos are taken.  They should also, day before and day of, remind the students of these policies.

As for the reprints, they won’t do a lot of good – even if they come BEFORE school lets out there’s no guarantee all of the students will trade books, as kids have probably already started signing them.  (I remember yearbook days – up until my last one, those days were kinda cool, as they reminded you of who your friends were.  As for my last one – only having one photo, for the football team, and no portrait disappoints me to this day.)

Will the school listen?  Of course not- listening requires taking fingers out of ears and shutting up, something the guy doesn’t seem content to do.  Hopefully the publisher puts some pressure on them to change – after all, it isn’t just the school who looks bad here.  (Blame doesn’t always fall on the people responsible for the crime.)


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