School photos: there is a better way.

We often plod along with some things in life simply because there is no better way.

We say goodbye to our children in the morning and send them off on the school-bus, then question them patiently, cautiously, optimistically, at the end of the day - just to glean a sliver of understanding about what they did all those hours. The answer is often vague, but we try again the next day, and the day after that.

Similarly, we get alerts from our schools that 'picture day' is approaching, and if we're lucky, some years we actually manage to remember the day when it comes. We dress our kids accordingly and brush their hair, maybe tie a ribbon in their hair or tuck in their shirt. Sure, come photo time, they'll have food in their teeth or pizza sauce smeared on their new shirts from hot-lunch day. That cannot be helped (and as a documentary photographer, I tend to think this is the best part about conventional school photos).

When the sneak-peek photographs arrive home, they are stamped with a large watermark and we go through an accompanying brochure with a list of options - wallet size, or bigger, number of copies, etc - about the portraits of our children we would like to purchase. We send a check the next day, and we hope it makes it to those to whom it's going.

The photos we paid for finally arrive. They are of our kids, trying on their best smiles, against a backdrop that has little or nothing to do with the place they were in and the place where they spend the majority of their waking week-day hours: school. That place that acts as a home away from home.

We are no closer to finding out what our kids do in the classroom, or on trips.

We are no closer to seeing the true joy in their eyes at being surrounded by friends, at learning new things, at accomplishing, earning independence, struggling and overcoming, running, painting, laughing.

And we do this every year simply because there is no better way. 

crock a doodle visits Bayside montessori, 2016

crock a doodle visits Bayside montessori, 2016

Well... now there is a better way.

Meet the "Year in the Life: School Edition".

This is a photography experience that is as bendy and stretchy as your kids on the playground. It will give you as much joy as does hearing those two-word utterances your kids make when you ask them 'how was your day'? Ok, maybe more joy.

It is something you might not have considered possible. Or might not have considered at all.

Here is what happens: You register your child in the program. Note: I need a minimum of three parents per school to run the program. You pay a $100 deposit and a monthly payment (depending on how many parents sign up, the monthly payment ranged between $35 and $50). I, the photographer, visit your child's classroom at least once a month. I drop in during regular classroom activities, as well as during special events, such as celebrations, field trips, and guest visitors.

As a specialist in documentary photography, I take photographs of the unposed moments, in which your child is engaged in learning or play. We get beautiful and candid portraits along the way, too. During these sessions, I never ask the children to pose for me, or to modify their behaviour.

At the end of each month, you get your very own online photo-gallery. It contains all the high-resolution digital images of your child. Some of these photographs are of your child alone, and others include your child with friends and peers (if they've given photo-permission, of course). The logistics of this are up to me. The photographs you receive are for you.

You can download and print your images at any time from your gallery. You can order prints for grandma and have them shipped directly to her. Galleries can also be shared with friends or family online.

At the end of the year, you'll receive some graduation photos. This is the time when we can have a more formal portrait, but they'll never be stuffy. No studio backdrops or photoshopped props. Just your child, in the environment where she has worked so hard and played so hard all year long.

If you are interested in receiving more information about this package, please get in touch!

You can browse additional photographs or find out more information about registering for this program. 

If you are unsure whether this program can be made available at your school, please send me an email at and I will be in touch shortly!

And enjoy the last week before school starts!

photograph from an end-of-year trip to the splash pad, Bayside montessori 2016

photograph from an end-of-year trip to the splash pad, Bayside montessori 2016

viara mileva is a documentary photographer, specializing in truly candid family and wedding photography.

love the life you live. invest in photographs that mean the world.