Learning With: ‘The School Photo Industry Is a Master Class in Drama’

Learning With: ‘The School Photo Industry Is a Master Class in Drama’

3. How does Mr. Wunder train photographers in his franchise? Which of the tips and advice — from dealing with lice to getting the proper head tilt — do you think is most fascinating, creative or effective?

4. What does the author mean when he writes that Mr. Wunder is a “salesman first, and a photographer second?” What are the opportunities and challenges for the photographer in the $1.6 billion school photo industry? Include three examples of market forces cited in the article.

5. How do photo companies like Stomping Ground Photo offer a new approach to school photos? How are they distancing themselves from Mr. Wunder’s approach?

6. The article concludes:

“The real reward comes when you got up on that real crisp autumn morning, and you drove across town, and you set up the equipment and you get greeted by the lunch ladies and sometimes they bring you a biscuit out of the oven,” Mr. Wunder said. “And then you see this entourage of little bodies with big smiles and little bow ties and they’re looking up to you like, ‘The picture man is here.’”

He was still in a reflective mood a few minutes later at the hotel bar, whiskey in hand. When floods and fires strike family homes, his photos are the treasures first spirited out, he said. And then, at least once a year, a car crash means the portrait he took of a schoolchild is her last. Mr. Wunder always rush-orders and frames a 16-by-20-inch photo for the funeral.

The fiercely competitive mask had slipped. Mr. Wunder sat up straighter and took a sip of his drink.

What are the emotional rewards for Mr. Wunder? Why do you think he has continued in the school photo industry despite the challenges and hardships of four decades of work?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— What is most interesting, surprising or eye-opening in this “behind-the-scenes” look at the school photo industry? Had you ever thought much about the men, women and companies behind your annual school photos? How does this change your view of picture day?

— Mr. Wunder likens Lifetouch to the “dark side,” and the writer of the article calls him a leader of the “resistance.” Do you think he will succeed in his battle against Lifetouch? Would you ever want to be a school portrait photographer? Would you want to be part of Mr. Wunder’s resistance?

— The article illustrates many of the challenges small businesses face in competing with big companies and corporations. What life lessons for running your own small business can you draw from the article? Do you think Mr. Wunder’s story is an inspiring or a cautionary tale? Use at least three examples from the article as evidence to support your view.

— What are your experiences of picture day? Do you and your peers look forward to class photo day? Do you and your family usually purchase copies of the photos? Do you have a favorite or most embarrassing school photo?

— To get a subject’s Mona Lisa look, Mr. Wunder recommends saying “cheeseburger” for young children, “money” for teenagers and “weekend” for adults. What word do you think works best, based on your own experience?

— Are class pictures even needed in the age of selfies? Make a case for why schools should keep or eliminate picture day. Include at least one recommendation for how your school can improve the class photos for you and your peers.