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School Photography Industry: Heartless, Money-grubbing

Editor’s note: Wade Riggs granted permission for this piece, that he originally wrote and posted on his Facebook page, to be re-published here on ANC. Readers might recall a 2016 ANC story about the Riggs family’s refusal to let an incident of holiday vandalism dampen their spirits. Click here to read that story. 

I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but the school photography industry has to be the most heartless, money- grubbing industry in the world, and what’s worse is they simply don’t care!

Have you seen the package prices for high school senior photos? One (small) photo is $70, and a photo package can cost more than $500.

Are you serious?!!

My wife and I talked, and of course, we have to buy the photos. After all, how many times will my son graduate?

To me, it’s not all about the money. It’s about what is right. More than 50 percent of the kids in Shasta County live below the poverty line. How many parents have a son or daughter who are graduating, and don’t have the financial means to spend that kind of ridiculous money on a senior picture?

And don’t get me started on the email campaign where parents are sent email after email telling you to “Order now before the photo disappears forever”. Give me a break with the heart-string-tugging Scrooge McDuck guilt-trip garbage!

My wife Bobette and I have decided to do something about this. We are going to reach out to local venues that we work with and see if one of them will donate their ballroom for a day toward the beginning of the school year. We will then set up a green screen and take senior photos at no charge. The photos will then be uploaded to our server where they can be downloaded for FREE. We will recruit as many local area photographers and videographers who can donate a day to their community.

High school graduation is a very special time, and I am sick and tired of kids being penalized based on their financial resources. I want to celebrate every child who put in the hard work and effort to walk across that stage and get their diploma. While a senior portrait may seem insignificant to some, to most graduates it is something they will cherish forever. Let’s quit penalizing children based on economic status.

I’m going to be looking for volunteers to help organize the day.

Bobette and Wade Riggs were so fed up with the school-photo industry and the high costs of high school photos that they created an option for Shasta County 2020 graduating high school seniors.

UPDATE: The Sheraton Hotel at the Sundial Bridge has generously donated its facility on Sat., Sept. 7, and also on Sun., Sept. 8, if we need it.

The amount of support has been overwhelming. So many people have voiced their desire to help. We spoke with several schools and have received no negative feedback, and in most cases, support for our intention. They understand that the parents who can afford to buy senior photo packages will probably continue to do so.

Photo source: Free Senior Picture Day Facebook page.

We are not providing packages, but one professional senior portrait that can be downloaded, shared, printed and in most cases submitted to their high school yearbook. We are going to receive the required mechanical specs for submission. We have created a Facebook page for this project: https://www.facebook.com/fspd2020/

The total number of seniors varies by school. If we can get 10 photographers, we should be able to manage this. Our vision is that we have a check-in table where we verify through student ID that the teens are Shasta County 2020 high school seniors. They will be then sent to a room where girls can work on hair and make-up, and be provided with a dress if they need one. For the boys, we’ll provide a tux jacket, tux shirt and tie.

Once the students are ready, they will be guided to the next available photographer who will shoot a chest-shot portrait. When they return their clothing they will be given the url where they can download their photo.

In addition to the photographers, we will need volunteers for hair, make-up, dressing-room coordinators and check-in table. We need the tux tops for the guys, dresses for the girls, etc.

We will have computers there which will upload the photos to the web. What we need is YOU. Donate one day to the kids.

No one associated with this event is making any money. Not a single penny. Our payment will come in seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces as they are pampered and shown the respect for their hard work.

If you’d like to help, you can email me at wade@riggsmediaconsulting.com

Thank you!

Wade Riggs has more than 40 years production experience. He has worked as video director on concert tours for musical performers such as Merle Haggard and Kris Kristofferson, as well work as an MTV video director. Wade also has more than 15 years experience as an audio/video forensic specialist and as the former vice president of technology for LawyersLearn and has helped create national online continuing legal education programs. He has extensive experience in providing in-trial media support as well as providing expert audo/video forensic testimony in cases throughout northern California. He is an award-winning actor and has produced and directed several north state theater productions. He and his wife/business partner Bobette Riggs own and operate Riggs Media Consulting in Redding. 

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