It was a weird week with the holiday, so if you missed my post from Thursday, check it out here so you can appreciate this chapter of the getting Mini's grad photo taken saga. We'll wait.
Clarify: Mini told me recently that the reason she didn't know she was supposed to choose a yearbook photo was that she doesn't pay attention to announcements at school. It wasn't an overlooked email as I'd initially thought. Not sure if that impacts our empathy for her 'situation', but there's that.
Finally in mid May, I texted Mini during the school day: We are going to JC Penny today at 5. Shower when you get home.
I called in advance. Explained that we just needed senior portraits. Head shots. Was that something they could do. Sure. Simple, right?
Oh, before I made the JC Penny appt, I took a ton of photos of Mini outside our home in front of a bush. Greenery as the backdrop. She hated all 50 of them, but could've been convinced to select one. I was unaware that she was so critical of her appearance. Now that I know, we will have to work on encouraging self love, along with moving towards having her willing to hug people to show affection. Not sure if you realize, but in addition to not paying attention to announcements at school, Mini doesn't hug.
|This was a cute |
photo, before I made it
creepy looking by
erasing my kid's face.
Mini couldn't find the shirt she'd JUST worn for my outdoor photo shoot like two days before. I'm rarely speechless, but there I was. I shrugged, uttered a few guttural sounds blaming the state of her room, then offered her dressy solid colored options from my closet.
We dropped Reg off at b-ball a full hour early in order to make the one appointment JC Penny had available. Basketball was very near the mall, so I had to combine the two. I'd contemplated dragging Reg along for the photo session and dropping him at the gym afterwards in case the courts weren't free. Looking back, I thank my lucky stars that he was happy to be an hour early rather than witness what was to come.
The woman at the JC Penny desk asked me to choose some backgrounds.
Me: OK, THIS GRAY IS FINE. WE ARE ONLY DOING HEAD SHOTS. JUST NEED A GRAD PIC. SHE ISN'T INTERESTED IN LAYING ON THE GROUND OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.
Lady: OK, WELL WE TAKE 12 POSES.
Me: OK, WELL - SO LONG AS THEY ARE JUST HEAD SHOTS. (with 12 different angles?)
*is this a difficult concept? When the boys had their photo shoot, they had 9-12 photos taken. All in the suit, same background. Just 12 attempts to capture a good smile, etc.
She insisted I pick out more than one background. I eye-rolled and indicated the plain white one even though I just wanted the gray.
As the woman went to 'set up' the room, she asked Mini if she played any sports in school.
Mini: TENNIS, BASKETBALL, AND BADMINTON
I knew where this was headed, but Mini looked confused.
Me: YEAH, SO - SHE IS 100% NOT WANTING TO POSE WITH A BASKETBALL. JUST HEADSHOTS.
Lady: OH, REALLY? OK.
Mini and I exchanged a look. She called Mini into the room and I followed her. My-way-or-the-highway-photo-shoot woman told me I couldn't come in. Oh, was this a covid thing, or did she just not want anyone interfering with her bossy-pants photo session? I stood just outside the doorway of the 5 x 10 foot space.
my-way-or-the-highway: DO YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF OR DO YOU WANT THEM IN THE PICTURE?
Mini, who was wearing my dressy top, shorts that she threw on not intending them to be in the photo, and athletic slides, looked at her blankly. I wanted to ask WHY ARE HER FEET IN THE PHOTO IF IT IS NOT A FULL BODY SHOT? instead I hollered from the doorway,
JUST HEAD SHOTS.
Lady: JUST HUMOR ME.
I didn't hear her say this. Mini told me later. I really didn't want to waste this trip, energy, effort, etc. I really wasn't in the mood to humor ANYONE. But from my stalker-in-the-doorway spot, I watched as my kid kicked off her athletic slides while sideways glancing at me.
Next the woman had Mini place the palm of her hand on the side of her face, as if she'd sustained a flesh wound on her face and she was trying to stop the bleeding.
Again, not about to order that nonsense.
I mouthed the words to Mini: SAY SOMETHING. SHE'S NOT LISTENING TO ME.
Mini's face resembled an angry emoji, as if this was my fault. Swell.
Next: photos of Mini turned backward, looking at the camera over one shoulder. I had stuff to do at home. I was mid senior video and I feared this was a waste of my time. I wanted to bang my head on the wall.
Photo-shoot-run-amuck-lady: OK, NOW I WANT YOU TO LAY ON YOUR BELLY.
HOLD THE PHONE, WHAT ON EARTH? I'D SPECIFICALLY SAID NOT DOING THAT.
I hissed: HEADSHOTS.
Not that it mattered.
|Take my word for it, Mini was laughing after|
having been dragged into position. What is
wrong with, SO CAN YOU SCOOT
BACK A FEW FEET?
The lady then momentarily forgot that Mini wasn't a 9 month old or a toddler and is, in fact, 18 years old and 5'11". She grabbed my daughter by the ankles and scooted her backwards a few feet.
Why, oh why, did I not see this coming so that I could video this unexpected moment? I snapped a photo but bossy pants was walking away from Mini by then.
torture 12 poses were finally wrapped up and we were told to sit in the waiting area. My-Way-Or-The-Highway was busy doctoring the photos up with words like 'graduate' arched over Mini's image, because that's traditional. Apparently.
I nudged Mini: GO ASK HER IF SHE CAN JUST EMAIL US THE PROOFS SO WE CAN END THIS NIGHTMARE. NOT SURE HOW LONG WE WILL HAVE TO WAIT HERE.
Mini: I'M SURE NONE OF THESE PHOTOS WILL WORK. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HER? SO WEIRD.
Mini asked if we could be released from the basement studio, but she was told that the pics were almost ready and emailing wasn't an option.
At last, we stood in front of the computer to select the poses that we liked. Bossy scrolled right through all the nonsense ones and actually said SO YOU DON'T WANT ANY OF THESE, RIGHT?
Now? NOW - SHE GETS THE MESSAGE? Super strange. There were a total of 2 photos that we didn't classify as Cheez-Whiz. One of the weird ones was a horizonal photo of Mini's face, but not centered. Hey JC Penny - the artistic world called, they are declining your membership application to the artsy world. There was a ton of space on one side of her as if she was posing with a buddy who forgot to show up. I asked if she could crop that one and make it look like a regular head shot. Now we had 3 to choose from. Small miracles.
Never in my life have I uttered the words 'head shot' more in a one hour window.
Mercifully there was one photograph that both Mini and I found acceptable. Of course it was on the white background vs the gray, but the saying about beggars and choosers applies here. DONE!
On the way home, Mini was wishing we'd been assigned the other woman who was working at the time. I was like: NOT SURE IT WOULD'LVE MATTERED. MAYBE THAT'S JUST HOW THE PLACE OPERATES. Mini thought differently.
Mini: NO, SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS THE MATHMATICAL LIKELIHOOD THAT BOTH WOMEN WHO WORK THERE HAVE PERSONALITY DISORDERS?
Needless to say, we cry laughed all the way home. I celebrated when I got an email from JC Penny asking about my experience. I was happy to share my feelings.
OMG, WHAT. That is the most bizarre thing I have heard - what. What. I am just going to repeat WHAT over and over. I'm glad you found one photo!
Also, I will repeat, oh Mini.
OMG is right. As you often say Ernie, sometimes blog posts just write themselves. I will be chucking out loud all day at the thought of her dragging your very tall teenager by the ankles. So funny...and so weird.
In general I hate how every single thing is followed by a satisfaction survey, but in this case, wow, yes, eager to fill that one out! What on earth.
THAT IS EXACTLY HOW OUR JC PENNEY WORKS TOO!!!
I'm like, I just want one photo of ALL the kids for a Christmas card, and they proceed to do group shots and single poses in weird ways while explaining they HAVE to do a certain amount of each kind.
Then you have to sit there and pick the photo you want and what to write on the card right after, while you are sweating and stressed from the whole procedure.
I always have major buyer's remorse when I get the cards, but at that point it's too late to start over.
Anyway, all this to say, I feel you!
I think they get paid on commission, and she was probably hoping you'd like the artsy-fartsy pictures. But capitalism really is a pain. You probably could have taken your own headshots at home and gotten better results.
What in the actual hell is happening at JC Penny?
Btw, ours closed because of crappy sales. You should warn the photographer...or not.
I think the one in front of the greenery is great!!
I now want my children to go to JC Penny's and get the worst group photo ever taken. Then I'll blow it up huge and hang it in the dining room. It will be so amazingly bad.
Nicole - I read in your post today about getting the coupons and the emails encouraging you to order photos. I was like SAME - ONLY THEY NEVER EVEN EMAILED ME THE PROOFS, OR HAD ME INVOVLED IN SCHEDULING THE APPOINTMENT. I'm glad this saga has ended and the photo we have is actually cute. The ones I took by the bush out front is also lovely. This girl. She is something else. The appointment was like we'd stepped into an alternate universe. Incredibly odd.
Pat - It really was such a strange thing to do. Hello, she's 18. As in, she can vote. Why are you pulling her? Why is she laying on the floor after we said not gonna do that kind of photo? Glad it's over, but sometimes life just gives you situations that are super blog-worthy. This one certainly did.
ccr - Oh, I totally agree. I dislike giving places my email address because LEAVE ME ALONE. This time, I was all about it. They got an earful.
Colleen - I'm cracking up. YES! Why must we decided RIGHT then and there? Why group children in weird clusters, if that isn't what you are there for. When my kids were babies, I took them to Sears for regular photos. It was super close to home. This was my first, and I hope my last time at JC Penny.
Kari - I did wonder if they were required to take the photos that they THINK sell the most, but if the customer is telling you that she does NOT want those - then she is not going to order a stack of weird photos. I think the saying applies here: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. I did have some luck with the photos in my yard, but I felt like that pic on the wall would stand out as not the official type.
Suz - Yeah, I did want to nudge the lady and say YOU DO KNOW THAT SEARS IS CLOSED, SO MAYBE TRY TO WORK WITH ME HERE. It was such a weird photo shoot. Good grief.
I did like the one in front of the bush out front. I'm glad we got something to hang on the wall though, and as a bonus a hilarious story.
Kara - So you are the type to embrace the: IT'S JUST SO BAD IT'S GOOD mindset? That would be funny. Would your girls go along with it? At Lad's baptism my family hired a photographer to take a family photo. My niece was baptized the same day. The photographer didn't use a backdrop. He snapped the photo with the other people at the party milling around. Then he inserted a green screen of sorts AFTER he took the photo. I have curly hair (well then I really had much curlier hair than now) and he just cut my hair out around the background because I was standing in the backrow (tall). Not explaining it well, but my hair looks like a blob stuck on my head. Silliest thing ever.
The JC Penney photo story--hilarious!! Raising kids in the 1980's and 90's, that's all we had, that or Sears. But the artsy-artsy stuff hadn't really taken hold yet, so it wasn't too bad. I actually love how much your daughter doesn't care about photos. Some her age care way too much!
You have the best stories!!!! Sorry they had to make it weird. I'm assuming they are trained to take multiple shots and angles in an attempt to upsale you. Who knows? I don't even think our JC Penney offers a photo studio. I'm glad you guys were able to get a shot that you both are sort of happy with!
Laura Pearl - I took my kids to Sears for photos. Basically, I did whatever my older sister told me to do. That no longer holds true, but at the time it worked. I had very little research to do. I once had Lad pose for his annual photo while holding a big toy lion (one of those realistic looking animal toys). He was wearing a lion shirt. That was as far outside the box as I felt comfortable, but he was probably 3 or 4 and he loved lions, so it was cute. the backdrop was still a solid color and not a cartoon jungle look or anything. I have my standards. ;)
Beth - Thank you. I do feel like I sometimes walk into weird scenarios and they develop into stories that are impossible to imagine or ignore. It keeps life interesting, but for sure nothing is ever really simple. I figured she was trying to get us excited about some of these poses that we hadn't considered, but frustrating a customer who knows what she wants is a bad business practice. I am glad we managed to get a photo that we both like. My mom admitted that she really didn't like Mini's 8th grade photo, so she was happy to finally get a decent replacement.
Huh? That is just plain weird. I'm glad you got one good photo of the experience, and a really good blog post out of the experience, BUT I'm with Mini when she mentioned the mathematical likelihood of both women having personality disorders!
Ally - Yes, it was plain weird. Being in the basement of JC Penny, unchartered territory for me, added to the whole 'alternate universe' feeling for me. Double duty - one decent photo, why complicate life with a several great photos to choose from, AND a funny blog subject. ;)
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