Photos on Canvas and the Changing School Picture

School pictures are one of those rare things that link generations together. Whether you’re 90 years old or 10, chances are you know the experience of Picture Day: Your parents laying out clothes, the mandatory haircut, the slow shuffle in front of a backdrop, the one kid in your class who forgot and shows up wearing a bad T-shirt and a cowlick the size of the moon. It’s remarkable how little the experience has changed: The camera may be digital, but it’s still the same Picture Day for most kids.


What has changed is what you can do with those pictures once they come home with your kids. In the past you would have the large one framed, stick one of the little ones in your wallet, and mail the medium-sized ones off to relatives. And you can still do that – but the advent of affordable ways to print photos on canvas has fundamentally changed the way people deal with school photos.

Smaller Orders

One obvious impact is that parents are ordering fewer prints directly from the photographer. A growing number of photographers hired by schools for Picture Days are offering digital files as part of a package – you can still order the traditional prints in a variety of packages, of course, but you can also get fewer hardcopies and hi-resolution files to do with as you wish. Even if your school doesn’t offer this option, most of us have access to scanners and can turn a single portrait into a hi-res file for turning into screensavers, web pages, and photos on canvas.

The Photos on Canvas Effect: Less Formality

Because an increasing number of families are capable of creating their own portraits at home and then turning those into large-scale, high-quality wall art, the importance of Picture Day has diminished in some households, allowing the event to be less formal. Kids are increasingly being allowed and even encouraged to have fun with the portraits at school – to dress in costumes or very casually, to play up for the camera, and even do ‘action’ poses. Since their parents already have serious portraits at home – conducted under their own preferences and their own creative desires – there’s less pressure for the school portraits to be official family documents.


The Future

It’s difficult to know whether the traditional school portrait will continue to be popular; with less expensive and easier options at home, it’s possible that more families will opt not to pay for school photos and will supply their own using their cameras, online learning, and online printing. For the moment, school photos appear to be holding their own through the power of tradition and the novelty of an ‘event’ at school for the kids.

One thing that is easily predictable, however, is the growing popularity of augmenting the official school photos with home-brewed portraits. Taking photos at home allow for complete control over the presentation and infinite re-takes to combat adolescent restlessness and mucking about – and the prints you can produce for your walls are spectacular.

Got a student portrait to share with the world: Click here and we’ll make sure it’s worthy of your wall of fame!