Safety First: Professional Portraits as Child Identification Cards

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Typically, we think of professional photography as a sentimental endeavor. School picture day, senior photos, family portraits, and wedding photography all capture joyous moments of great personal value. Preserving the moment, the smile and the memory is the goal; and a good professional photographer can make special moments last for generations to come. Professional portraits, however, can serve an even more important service: keeping our loved ones safe.

Parents, in particular, are many things to their children and ideally, parents assume many roles for their children. A good caregiver is a friend, confidant, advisor, comforter and, perhaps most importantly, a protector. Keeping children safe is any caregiver’s number one priority. The incessant pleas to look both ways before crossing the street, carry scissors point-down, stay away from fire and practicing “lost-in-a-crowd” drills are no-brainers, but it’s important to be prepared for the unimaginable — and then hope that it never happens!

Technology is a wonderfully powerful tool. Take a look at your phone: if you have kids, you likely have dozens of photos of your little ones, racing through the day and enjoying all that life has to offer. Now take a closer look: is your child’s face carefully framed? Is your child looking directly at the camera? Is his or her expression clear and readable? Is the lighting optimal? Are your child’s distinguishing features clear? Is the resolution high and the focus clear?

Honestly, the odds are that your typical cell phone candid is very few of these things. For a portrait to work well as a security picture, the print must be able to play nicely with the sophisticated facial recognition software that law enforcement agencies use. Working with a professional portrait photographer is a great way to cover all of the aforementioned bases.

Once you receive your prints, note the date the photograph was taken, your child’s weight, height, distinguishing features, birthmarks and your photographer’s contact information (in the event you need to quickly access the digital originals). Then, lock your notated copy in a safe place. You’ll want to update this information regularly.

Obviously, these are scenarios that any loving caregiver hopes never happens! Nevertheless, it pays to be prepared. Education is the best prevention. In addition to carefully archiving your child’s professional photo, make sure your young child has your phone number and his or her address memorized. Calmly explain your expectations should you find yourselves separated in a crowd, remind them to be wary of strangers and encourage them to find a security guard or law enforcement officer to help them.

Be safe!