Ashland School District elementary schools are taking a more individualized approach to their school photographs this year. All are using the same local photographer, Bryon DeVore.
These aren’t just any old formulaic school photos: backdrop, headshot, done. DeVore said he spends a few minutes with each child and takes up to 30 photos using various poses and props. He then picks the best 8-12, performs a quick edit and then posts those pictures online for the parents to choose from before a final edit.
“I like to think that my photos show the child in a joyful, artistic way,” DeVore said.
He said he’ll sometimes have the kids jump or look through a picture frame as examples of how his work differs from what you get from the national chains most schools use.
Most national chains such as Lifetouch have their pictures down to a science. The photographers crank out photos like an assembly line. It only takes about a day to photograph the whole school. They typically have four to five photographers working at a time. DeVore said he’s a one-man operation. He does all his work, from start-to-finish, alone and he’ll spend a week at each school.
“It’s a monumental job,” DeVore said. “The main idea is to spend more time with each child and to provide a better photo.”
DeVore started photographing Ashland kids about 15 years ago at the Siskiyou School when his own son attended. Since then, he’s slowly added the remainder of the Ashland elementary schools. This will be his fourth year photographing Helman, third year with John Muir, second with Walker and first with Bellview.
“It kind of grew organically,” DeVore said. “It started with the parent group at Helman … they contacted me and said they weren’t happy with the corporate chain that was doing the school photos.”
Piccadilly Cycles co-owner Gus Janeway was on the Helman PTA at the time. He said the association was looking at making school pictures affordable for all families regardless of income when they found DeVore. The PTA wasn’t satisfied with the chain they were using.
“The pictures tended to be more along the lines of mugshots than portraits,” Janeway said.
Since switching to DeVore, he said the portraits are more diverse and interesting, and his kids no longer dread picture day.
“I think the pictures he took of my kids that year are still front and center in the living room,” Janeway said.
The schedule for this year is: Helman, Sept. 10; Siskiyou School, Sept. 17; Bellview, Sept. 24; Walker, Oct. 1; and John Muir, Oct. 8
To see examples of DeVore’s work, visit his website www.bryondevore.com.