The Camera Never Lies
By the time you are reading this you will know that one of the first victims of the rainy season which is now upon us has been the taking of the whole school photograph, scheduled for yesterday afternoon but now postponed until September. Despite a forecast that promised a dry afternoon the rain continued unabated, though not with the driving intensity of today, and on health and safety grounds alone it was not possible to execute the plans for the day.
The wall of photographs next to the reception area of the school is an object of fascination for many. Students are always keen to spot themselves and their friends over the time that they are in the school and, it would seem, equally keen to find their parents if they attended Fulston Manor. It is always possible to work out who the old Fulstonians are amongst the parent body as they are the ones who go slowly past the photographs on Open Days. With a significant number of staff also being ex-students, there is also a challenge to be enjoyed identifying them in their schooldays and wondering whether they ever thought in those days that they would end up working here possibly more depressing use for these photographs is in enabling those of us who have been here for a long time to trace the aging progress, in two year chunks, from the days of black and white to the glorious technicolour of now. Whilst wrinkles and grey hair may be creeping up on some of us, it is also a relief to see that we have progressed from some of the hairstyles and fashion statements of the past.
Every photograph carries memories not only because of the images that are captured but also of the event itself. The 1982, taken indoors by a man with a whistle and a camera that managed to flatten all four walls of the gym (check out the basketball hoops at either end of the picture), the 1994, taken from a helicopter and the last whole school photograph before the key stages were separated to allow for facial recognition, the 2004, so cold that the back rows (always put up first) were blue and the word “exposure” was not being used solely as a photographic term. Perhaps the most memorable photograph is the one that isn’t there, the 2009, when, as the rain got progressively heavier, the sixth form showed the spirit of the blitz whilst singing through the deluge, only to be brought off the staging at the last with no photo possible but with the admiring comments of the photographers ringing in their ears.
Whole school photographs are something now largely abandoned by many schools but something I am determined to maintain. Whilst the logistics and risks involved in photographing almost 1400 people outdoors on a biennial rota are enough to deter the fainthearted, we will be ready to do it all again in September in order to ensure that future generations may look back with interest on the class of 2012. As a final observation on the process, it seemed for a while that I would be unable to be present when the photograph was taken but was assured that the photographers would be able to Photoshop me in later. Should there be no discernible signs of aging in the coming years and should it appear that I have a favourite school photograph tie which I always wear, there may be a reason for this………