Not picture perfect

LCHS senior unhappy with school's guidelines for yearbook photos

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Katie Richardson, a senior at Lake City High School, is unhappy with the school's guidelines for yearbook photographs.

COEUR d'ALENE - Katie Richardson had plenty of ideas for her senior yearbook photo.

Like posing with her guitar, the Lake City High School senior said, to leave her mark as an artist.

"I love singing and I love music," said Richardson, 16. "I just wanted to have fun photos."

But her yearbook photo will feature the same aspect of herself as every other senior: Her head and torso.

That's not enough, Richardson argues. And some other students feel the same.

According to the school's policy for senior yearbook photos, seniors must only provide vertical shots of the waist up, face to the front, with professional quality resolution, no soft focus, and no props, animals or other people.

Richardson believes the policy limits students' ability to express their interests in their final school photos, she said.

"I saw all of the yearbook stuff before. All the seniors, you could tell the jocks were the jocks, because they had football uniforms and helmet. You could tell the musicians, because they had their guitars and trumpets," said Richardson, who has written a letter to the editor stating that the policy is new. "The head shot doesn't tell who you are at all."

But LCHS Principal Deanne Clifford was surprised to hear about Richardson's complaints.

The policy has been in place since before Clifford started working at the school in the mid '90s, she said.

Only recently there has been "better communicating" about the guidelines because the school is now sending information to parents through direct email, Clifford said.

"I think maybe when you have a policy and it gets communicated better, it comes to the forefront," Clifford said.

In the past, she acknowledged, some senior photos with props or animals have gotten in.

"Every other year or so, you'll find a horse head we missed," she said, adding that occasionally props were requested and allowed.

Animals and other people in a portrait shot can end up blocking a student's face, she said. It's better to have a blanket policy than try to draw the line at what animals are allowed.

The same for props, she said, as some objects can be distracting.

"We don't want to be the judge of an appropriate prop or an inappropriate prop," Clifford said. "I've had things like magazine bullets laying next to the person. It's having that policy."

The rules don't restrict students' individualism, Clifford said. As long as outfits aren't risque, kids can wear what they want, athletic uniforms included.

"We have a wonderful yearbook that covers every activity, and student life," she said.

She reminded that seniors can still have other senior photos taken, just not for the yearbook.

"Studios will do family shots, you can have those blown up for your home," she said, adding that she hasn't heard any other complaints about the photo policy.

Coeur d'Alene High School has the same senior photo policy. So does Post Falls High School, though the vertical shot must be from the shoulders up.

According to the Lakeland High School website, senior photos must be wallet sized and in portrait dimension. School staff said there was no restriction on props or animals.

Teachers in charge of yearbook could not be reached at any of the schools on Tuesday.

Richardson said she is waiting to hear other students' opinions before taking her complaints to school officials.

Sophomore Mark Turner shares her opinion about allowing props.

"It gives more perspective on what you're into," he said, standing outside LCHS on Tuesday.

Freshman Samantha Cheatham said she would like both props and animals in senior photos.

"It's your last opportunity to leave a good impression, and it's how everybody will know and remember you," Cheatham said. "It's so plain, just to see the torso and up, it's really plain."

Hunter Keller, sophomore, doesn't care.

"It's just a picture," he said, adding that his friends often post photos of his school activities on Facebook, anyway.

His friend, Angela Faranta, agreed.

"Why do you need to express yourself in a photo people will only look at once?" the Lake City junior said. "Why not express yourself with your hobbies, and the way you dress?"

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