School Photos: Step Away From the Matching Sibling Sweaters

Apparently I am a horrible mother for allowing my children not only to choose what they wear for their school photos, but to also let them choose the background for said photos.

Some of those Martha Stewart type Moms aren’t impressed. They’ve declared my husband and I those ‘weird California’ types and then discussed how they/theirdaugherorson/theirgrandchild/theirchildren would have clothes laid out for them the night before and their hair done exactly as they would deem fit (ouch, tight pig tails HURT) for school photo day.

Afterall, these are children. We can’t trust them to dress themselves for something this important. I mean, they would wear their Halloween costume or their PJ shirt with a tutu bottom.

This is important Erin, every family member will have these photos on their mantle or fridge. Don’t you want them to look…you know…normal?

No, we want them to look like themselves. Like they do every day. With their creative flare and their comfort showing. We want them to look and be who they are– not who we want the world to think they are.

We want them to express themselves and know they should feel pride for picking out what makes them…THEM. Not some watered down, matching, scratchy, uncomfy, looked like they stepped out of some catalog version of them their own parents wouldn’t even recognize.

So behold my amazing, creative, and awesomely dressed children:

I can't wait for THIS school photo to hit the extended family shelves :D #allhailhala  cc: @aaronvest
Jack's epic school pic

May they, and their family, remember and respect what they were like in the 1st and 3rd grade and may they also learn to lighten up a bit. It’s a school photo, not some contest to see whose kid can show up looking the cleanest.

But if there happened to be an award for originality, comfort, and bad-assery…my kids just kicked your kid’s ass.


  1. They look great.I love Hala’s outfit

  2. wow. your kids have STYLE! gloves? a pettiskirt? a vest? i am totally impressed! i also agree with your thoughts on school photos.

  3. I love this on so many levels because a) no one has to keep up with the Joneses because it is a fake competition anyway and b) it let’s them be who they are. We never got to pick our background on our school portraits. Be yourself and let them do what they want to do. You live in L.A. where it is super competitive and no one wants to be another Toddler in a Tiera or whatever that show on TLC is.

    Be the rebel and know your kids love you for allowing them to be themselves. They will appreciate it later.

    I don’t even have kids and I am sounding like I was on a soap box.

  4. Sunday had this posted on G+ and I had to come over and read. First of all I love that background and wish our photographers offered something like that. Second your kids are awesome. I love their style and you know what they love you for allowing them to have it. can honestly say I HATE my school photos. HATE them. The only one I remotely like is my senior year one cause it was the first one I was really allowed to be comfortable and more like me.
    I also don’t force my kids to dress up. Last year for school photos my youngest wore his gamer shirt and jeans and picked the outdoor with a barn background. He chose to look like he was leaning against the barn with his arms folded across his chest. Without a doubt the best photo of him ever..

  5. Just laughed hard. Your kids rock.

  6. I plan to let Klaw dress himself for stuff like this, too. I think it’s ridiculous how much emphasis people put on school pictures & clean children. I love the outfits kids come up with before society teaches them that only certain colors/patterns go together. Both of your children look great in their pictures. You can see so much of their personalities in them, which makes them real snapshots of who they are & not some cookie-cutter image of a child.

    Hell, everybody’s favorite school picture of mine is from kindergarten. I didn’t want my picture taken, so I argued with everyone from the photographer to the school principal. In the picture, my anger & frustration is incredibly apparent. It accurately portrays how stubborn & assertive I was at 5….and still am at 35.

  7. I think they look awesome, too. And the outrage does not match the seriousness of the situation (not serious). People who have time and energy to nit pick things like this don’t have to worry about getting kids to school on treatment days, or how to enjoy a family outing with a wheelchair (how to get from place to place, is it really accessible?). Or these people can’t stand to think of things like that, so they focus on the tiny stuff.

  8. Awesome! I love this. My daughter is not old enough for school photos yet, but I will continue to let her wear what she chooses. I don’t care if it matches. Or conforms to what people feel looks “right.” She takes prides in choosing her outfits. Why would I take that away from her?

  9. Now, I personally maybe wouldn’t have went with the skulls shirt (remember, my kids go to Catholic school where that wouldn’t fly ROFL), but what they picked out is fine. It always amazes me how we pick on other mother’s choices for their children. I hope I get to meet your children one day to tell them I appreciate their fashion sense. 😉

  10. Yeah…I don’t see anything wrong with the outfits…they look normal to me…then again I’m a mom that lets her children pick out their clothes for school pictures and do their hair…I let my children be themselves…the other parents can deal. 🙂

  11. Seriously, you’re getting crap for this? WHATEVER. I had to wear the same uniform for my school pictures for the first couple years of elementary school, so I say, regular clothes rock! I am amazed every year when there is a little checklist at the bottom of our girls’ school pictures envelope asking whether we would like them to have an open or closed mouth smile, glasses off, etc. What the heck?! If they have missing teeth I want to see that! Missing front teeth is the only reason I can tell my own first grade picture apart from my second grade picture (because I was in the same uniform and my hair was the same style – or lack thereof). And my girls wear glasses every day. If they didn’t wear them in their school pictures, they wouldn’t look like themselves – so what the heck kind of question is it to ask if I want them to not wear their glasses?! This year my 5yo wore a dress that is *way* too big and found lots of things to accessorize: She had me tie a bit of sparkly ribbon onto the headband she’d decided to wear, more ribbon around her wrist, a string of big, fake pearls around her neck, and some skinny feather boa left over from a costume I made her sister a couple years ago. I look at that picture and I love it because IT’S SO HER!

  12. I love the pictures, the smiles are genuine because they are comfortable in what they are wearing and their personalities shine through. I love your son’s untucked shirt and hands in the pockets, something tells me he’s a wise old soul. In so many ways, kids don’t have control over what happens to them, giving them autonomy and choice, especially in how they present themselves is pretty important in developing their best true selves.

  13. wow, in the UK we have school uniform so creativity is a big fat ZERO.
    Your kids pics rock,..

  14. I’m with Caroline, someone (in “real” life) actually commented negatively on your children’s pictures? Who does that? As if this person was going to teach you to parent your children through the annual ORDEAL of school photographs, so we can all get through this PROPERLY? What a goofy thing.

    Anyway, the kids look great. Happy. Kudos to you for not squishing their souls.

  15. Ugh. My son’s school picture was TERRIBLE. He had a cheesy grin, hair past the tips of his ears and he was wearing his favorite t-shirt — one featuring Super Mario and a Nintendo-themed nemesis or two.

    I didn’t opt for retakes. That picture, in all of its geeky glory, represents who my son is.

    Good for you for letting your children be who they ARE. 🙂

  16. I agree completely. I want my kids’ school pictures to capture who they are when the picture is taken. Otherwise, what’s the point? And, let me tell you, we’ve have some goofy photos. Which makes sense if you have goofy kids.

  17. Honestly? My first thought when I saw what your kids were wearing or what you’d allowed them to do? My first thought was, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I do usually pick my kids’ clothes for picture day, but they like it when I pick their clothes, so it’s not like it’s a battle. What I should have done, though, was told them to dress in their favorite, funniest, brightest outfit.

    If anything, I’d call this a parenting WIN.

  18. Erin, I think these photos are wonderful! You are enabling your children to explore and express who they are, to create their own “stories” and create meaning for themselves. How would you and Aaron dress for YOUR portraits?

  19. all I can say is that you and your kids are FREAKIN AWESOME!

  20. Can Hala dress me for photos?
    I LOVE these pictures. I wish my school photos looked that good. (They always try to Photoshop my hair back to a ‘natural’ color.)

  21. I think they look adorable! I love the gloves and awesome skirt your little girl chose and the vest on your little guy is so cute!

    I let my boys pick what they wear most of the time too, and I am always proud of the way they look. Why? Because their little personalities shine through.

    My philosophy goes along the lines of what Luke Wilson tells SJP in that movie The Family Stone, “You’ve got a freak flag. You just have to let it fly.” My family proudly waves our “freak flags” high! haha
    Of course letting your child be his or her own person isn’t about being a freak. It’s about individuality and self-expression. But that quote always comes to mind.

  22. On picture day, I let Agent M choose her outfit. I always do. (I *think* this year it was turquoise and had skulls on it, because that’s what she likes.) I dropped her off and on my way back, I noticed that most of the girls (8 and 9 yr-olds) were wearing tutus and sequins.

    School pictures (and all pictures) are about capturing the moment. Sequins and all. If it captures that moment in time, it’s great.

  23. I found your blog on Babble’s top 50 mom blogs. That is quite a distinction, Congrats!I love your article. I hope you love my blog at where we have a great crib sale.

  24. They look fabulously themselves and that’s all that damn well matters…right?!


  1. […] of the wrecked kids, back when she was a little peanut. Erin (Queen of Spain) wrote a post about getting criticized for letting her children dress themselves for school picture day: This is important Erin, every […]

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