Many members of the Nantucket High School senior class were confused when they read the email from the administration in late August which stated that Hayward Photography was the “preferred photographer” for senior portraits.
Students were informed that, while anyone was free to have their personal senior photograph taken by a photographer of their choice, only photos taken by Hayward could be used in the yearbook.
However now, with the deadline for senior yearbook photo submission looming, it seems that this is not the case - that photos taken by other photographers may be used in the yearbook. This is causing many parents who had paid for the Hayward photos to wonder what exactly happened. Why did Hayward claim they were the only photography company that could be used?
Hayward Photography is the photographer that has been used by the Nantucket Public School system for several years. They offered two options to seniors, with the less expensive one including 12 images posted online “for viewing and ordering,” along with one 8”x10” print. What is not clear in this option is that the images online contain a watermark, meaning that to actually use the photo, and send it in to be used in the yearbook, one must pay for a digital image, a cost of $30. The other option included both the 8”x10” print, the twelve digital, watermarked images, and one digital image, without the watermark. That option was $99.95. In comparison, for $200, Laurie Richards, owner of Pixel Perfect, offered students their choice of time, date, and venue, and they received 25-30 edited photos, none of which had a watermark. This is just one of the many other options offered by local photographers.
For many families, the price difference is worth it, as these photographs capture a glimpse of what their son or daughter is like at a time in their life when they have accomplished so much.
Living in such a tight knit community, our photographers are our teachers, our neighbors, our parents’ friends, and in some cases parents themselves. Many people had planned on taking their photos with someone specific for a long time. Senior Isabell Beal explained, “I have planned on Merrill Mason taking my senior pictures since elementary school. She’s a close family friend and teacher, and it means a lot to me to have her take them.”
Other students had similar feelings and did not feel Hayward could capture an accurate representation of who they were, which is a large part of what a senior picture is. Richards believes that it should be the student's choice: “There are so many talented, wonderful photographers on this island, and Nantucketers like to support each other.”
Sittings for the photos were offered at three different locations: Brant Point Lighthouse, the Summer House, and the White Elephant Hotel. Many students had thought about when or where they might want their senior photos taken, and for many of them, it was not ideal to have to choose from three locations, and a 30 minute slot from a list. Darcy Foulkes knew she wanted to take her pictures with a group, “I wanted to get some pictures with my friends,” she said. “It's important to me because we’re graduating soon and these photos are memories I’ll have for a long time.”
Although senior photographs are an important aspect of a student’s final year in high school to many families, the memories made that special year are the most important thing; a nice photo in the beautiful town they grew up in is just a small piece. Seniors should have the option of Hayward Photography as well as local photographers. Administration needs to be clear about the policy in plenty of time for students to make an informed choice.