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Who’s this kid?

For nearly two years, I worked for a school photography company which specialised in digitally processed framed prints of both portraits and group shots.

At one stage, we had taken a 500-odd face portrait and class shoot at a comprehensive secondary school; in the paperwork from one of the photographers, one child for whom we had a photograph had no name or even frame number recorded for him. I checked the class photo for the class he appeared to be in, but half of the kids in that class were absent from the photo, along with their names, the mystery child included.

I telephoned the school and explained the situation, and informed them that I was faxing them over a photo of the boy for them to identify. The fax included a note mentioning which class we thought he was in, a year 8 class. After a few days – maybe a week or so – we had received no word from the school. All the checks on the cropped images were either done or near completion and it was about time to produce the proof copies and order forms for parents. It would be nice not to have this child’s order form go out as NO NAME.

I gave the school another call, and inquired about the fax. Oh, yes, came the cheerful but very slowly spoken reply, as a distant memory was recalled. Then something like, We don’t know who he is; no-one recognises him. (D’oh!) They had been through all of last year’s photos and found nothing that matched his face. One presumes that they were sure that he had not just joined the school this year (like a number of kids had indeed done).

They then told me that if we sent the fax again, they would pin it up on the staff notice board in case anyone recognises him. Relaying this back to colleagues afterwards got a good laugh; Has anyone seen this child? They’re effectively going to put up a wanted poster for the child. Excellent.

This time around, they did fax back a reply with a name and form, which I entered onto the database. However, something was nagging at my mind, and I looked up the new name in the existing records, and sure enough, we had a face for him. From this year’s shoot. And it was someone else. From the fax image quality, it would be possible to make the mistake of mixing them up as they did look similar, but the person who they claimed it was was in the year above. I take it no-one spoke to the form tutor of the form we gave them?

We gave up.