Smile and say “Winning!” It’s picture day.

A new season means another round of team pictures. I admit, I look back on those old photos from time to time and think, wow, I passed on some damn fine genetic material. Just look at how cute those little buggers are! But even the best looking kid can turn out a bad photograph and when you’ve got 100 teams of kids on photo day, the chances of the bad picture increase exponentially. Fear not, sports parents. I’ve got some tips for you to make that $30 photo package worth every penny.

Tip #1. Don’t stress about the group shot
Your player’s face will be one square centimeter or obscured by the tall kid in front so don’t expect too much. We always order the group photo though, just in case the loudmouth dad is right and his kid actually does go pro, we’ll be able to prove we knew them when they were just a 10 year old wunderkind.

Grass stain paints

Tip #2. Keep it clean
Yes, it’s just a sports jersey but let’s make it a clean sports jersey. Those bright lights will make the stains and spots look even worse and, while the dirty hustle jersey is an admirable look, it’s not one you want in the team photo for perpetuity. Try and get it in the wash before picture day. Pants, too, in case your kid is in the front row. Or they do that bended knee pose.

Tip #3. Don’t let Dad do the hair
I’ve seen many otherwise competent dads reduced to quivering cowards when confronted with team hair ribbons. There’s only one thing to do–suck it up and ask someone’s mom to help. Don’t get your sensitive-new-age-dad pride hurt here. We’re talking about saving your kid from a lifetime of the photo wall of shame.

Tip #4. Home or Away jerseys?
For some reason, and I blame the Oakland Raiders for this, everyone wants to wear the black jerseys for the photo. But that’s not always the best choice. Depending on the light, the skill of the photographer and the setting, sometimes the black just turns into a non-defined muddle of fabric in the photograph. The team will look just as tough and probably cuter, in the other jersey.

Tip #5. Details, details
Look at the little things that will show up later and bug the crap out of you, like the mismatched laces, the jersey that’s hanging askew, the flyaway hair, the cockeyed hat. If you are using a prop, like a soccer ball or hockey stick, clean it up first and make it look nice or it will detract from your player.

Buddy photo

It's a miracle! No one is punching anyone else.

Tip #6. Get a buddy shot
It’s nice to have that photo of your kid but what they’ll always remember is the best friend that they played with that year. Get a shot of both of them and split the package with the other family. Or have the photographer take a family shot with all of your kids. Grandma will love it and you’ll only have to wear one of those photo buttons on your coat.

Tip #7. Keep it moving
Picture day is usually a zoo so do everyone a favor and get there early, have your player ready to go and fill out your photo order envelope in advance. Nothing like waiting a half an hour to guarantee a crabby kid and a bad photo. We all thank you for that.

So, what have you learned about team photos and picture day? And anyone know how you get the older kids to organize for a team picture? I’m still trying to figure that one out. Leave your tips in the comments.

3 Comments on “Smile and say “Winning!” It’s picture day.”

  1. Carri Lee says:

    I enjoy your blogs Laurie. They are witty and the “tips” are actually good tips. I was cracking up at this one because we too by the group photo for the same reason – and write all the names on the back. If one of these kids goes Pro I want to be able to say “yeah I rescued him from the hotel swimming pool at a Mite tournament” 🙂

  2. Carri Lee says:

    Actually, that should have been “buy” the group photo. This is why I am not the blogger.

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