What Happens When a Student Passes?

*Accompanying YouTube Video for visuals can be found at:  https://youtu.be/FWphy65b140

I’ve placed posts on a couple of different groups, but for our members here in Systems, I wanted to give you kind of a follow-up to that.  Obviously, we had the shooting this past weekend here in Allen which is just right next to Wylie where we live.

We’re still finding out who the victims were but at this point, out of the first three that they’ve identified, one was a student that I photographed, who was now the 22-year-old security guard.  Two of the children that were killed are students here in our district where my children go and the school where they attend is not far from here. 

So, it hit pretty close to home and it just kind of brings back up one of the systems that we never really like to talk about but that we always have in place. That is a process for handling the passing of a student or a teacher or possibly of an athlete in a league that you photograph.

The process template you should be seeing here on your screen is our monday.com version of this template and it really is just broken up into three very simple things.

It sounds like something that is a no-brainer, but when the situation comes up and you’re faced with this type of situation, you need to be able to go back to an established process or list. We know that this is what provides us the reliability you need to be able to pull up a list without emotion involved.  We need to be able to go through and do the things that we need to do to help out the family the school the league whoever it may be. 

If you can see if my image here you can see this picture of Ethan.   Ethan McCormick was one of our players on a league that we photographed and he was with me as we were delivering pictures. He was playing at the table and we were kicking the ball back and forth on Saturday.  Tuesday was a foggy morning and a semi-truck hit his mother’s car on the way to school and killed him.

So you know it happens a lot of different ways.  Things don’t have to be malicious intent,  it can be just a teacher that had a heart attack at 70. Whatever it is we want to have something that we can follow in the Heat of the Moment and help people out.

So on this board if you want to try monday.com and you want to go there, click the link to try it.

I should be able to export this board to you if you want to do that but I also have it in Excel and I’m going to give that to you just in the post here but the first example is a missing student that happens occasionally.  Sometimes they wander off sometimes different things happen. But the family may have phone pictures to help identify their child, but a very clear well-photographed school picture might come in handy to try to locate the student. 

 Under missing student, we have the task of confirming the details and you just want to research the story.  You want to find out what you know what’s really there.   Is this speculation,  is it real,  what’s going on?   There’s a place for notes on the sub item and then if this is legit the first thing you want to do is go contact the Parents or find the images the best images that you think you might have.

With these two points, you could do either one first but if you contact them and they say “Yes please send it right now!” and you haven’t looked, you run the risk of having corrupt images or missing images.

 However, if you spend time looking and you don’t have your files organized then I don’t want you to spend a lot of time only for them to say “Oh no, we’ve got it.”   It’s kind of an either-or to try them both and see which works best or whatever you think works best for your situation and how well-organized you are.

If you have your images so that it’s super easy to look up and find them then it’s not a big deal.  For example, if you use an e-Commerce system like GotPhoto,  you can just put the kid’s name in and they’ll

pull up within seconds.   You can actually download that image straight from the site and you don’t even have to go back to your hard drives to look for it.  You just go there go here hit download originals and you can pull down everything that you have for that student or teacher or whoever.

So, with either one of these then you want to identify the points of contact.  This will be different depending on what the situation is. If it’s a missing child there’s probably an attorney or someone representing the family.  Since we know the family is typically the first one that the police suspect,  most often they retain an attorney to speak for them.  Maybe it’s another relative that’s speaking for them.  The parents are probably going to be pretty distraught, and I wouldn’t necessarily try to call them.  You can contact the number that you have in your system for them and someone else may answer and that’s

fine.  Just explain that you want help.  You’re the photographer you have some images of the child and you just wanted to see if they needed those to help spread the word and see if they can find the kid.

So, you know their attorney the spokesperson whoever at that point you know if you need to go to the police.  I would feel comfortable going to the police with something, but I would never go straight to the media on anything.

Regardless of your political affiliation media is very dependent upon ratings to survive and so even though they’re putting out data and information that people need, they’re also typically doing it in a way that is not always comfortable for everyone.

They can be a little dramatic in certain situations and they may push things out pushing the limits of what is acceptable and agreed upon.  I would only go to the media after I went to the family and if they said it was acceptable.   Ideally, they do that in an email and you’d get that in writing.

I’d rather give it to the family or the police and let them share it with the media in all honesty.

Back to the template and the video, this is gathering the information for each of those people and it gives you a place here for their name their role like an attorney or whatever their email, phone number, address if you need a physical address.   

You’ll see on some of the others why we might need that and then any notes that you have so once you have the information written in here, the next step is to actually contact them.  Provide the best image to all appropriate entities that you’ve covered in this step up here okay and hopefully, the student will be found.   Maybe they just wandered off and got stuck behind a tree and they got found and everybody’s good and you can live can move on Happily.   

I know we had a missing child who had been out for a couple of days and they were found safe in the woods with just a little bit of exposure that just happened last month.  So, there are happy endings sometimes.


The next section here is a student that passed, and like I said the security guard at the outlet mall was one of the students we had photographed.   He and his sister were both students that we photographed but that was many years ago and of course, he’s an adult now.   We’ve also had situations where a teacher passed away and they would like a professional portrait of him.

That’s probably the most common request that we get. You know the situation, you take great pictures of Mr. Robinson and he passes after having a heart attack or some other condition.   I’ve had calls as many as seven or eight years after they retired saying “Hey, that picture was the best one that we had of him can we either get another copy of that or can we print one for his service?”   

In this situation, it’s much easier than the first example, as you know with whom you are speaking and you simply need to find the image.  It can be a little different and the family may have an attorney or

spokesperson if it was Foul Play.  If it was an accident you know they may have an aunt, uncle, cousin, or somebody that’s helping them out but that could still be the situation there.  There may be a school contact if in our example, the two young ladies that were killed on Saturday the school is going to have a memorial in the gym later in the week. You know they’ll want to have photos for that and so who at the school or the school district is going to be handling that particular Memorial?

These two pieces these two tables are print items we have printed with our Labs cooperation.

16 by 20 Memorial pictures

In several different occasions, a 16 by 20 is typically the size that certainly for an older individual that would be framed and maybe set at the end of the casket.  It’s very possible that your professional school photo is the best photo of an individual that doesn’t have someone else in the picture and so that’s fairly common to have that as a request. 

For athletes, we do a lot of Trader cards. We’ll get information from the family maybe there’s something that the kid really dreamed or aspired to that you can immortalize on cards. I know from families that have given us that information specifically for this purpose it helps them remember who their child was and what their dreams were.

You can just ask “We have a product I’d be happy to make you.  It is a couple of dozen Trader cards that have their picture and have anything on there that you want.   We have a lot of Trader card designs that have blank spots and so you can put anything in there.”  It doesn’t have to be height weight but can be Hometown or that kind of stuff so Trader cards if they happen to be a school athlete or you could do a bag tag or even an ID card that little plastic card size is perfect for something to give the families.   We’ve had requests of having something like that that they could keep in their wallet or their purse that they can pull out and grieve over the next few months. Eventually, they may quit carrying them but it has been a request we’ve gotten on more than one occasion.

Some of the labs will give you the 16 by 20 if it’s a bereavement package.  They’ll then maybe even will give you a few sheets of the same image for family members.  You have to ask your lab because it depends but these other things don’t cost a lot and you know it can certainly go a long way.   Not that you’re advertising to the families that’s not the goal but you’re giving back.  This was someone in your family and you know if you can give something to them for not much then it can go a really long way to help them out.

It’s a good thing that we can provide and they’re cheap – they don’t cost you much.  A handheld sign or something from Signs365 is also an option.   It’s almost like a card stock but it’s printed and you could put whatever you want on it.  You could put pictures of the kids, and, if you take 20 minutes and do some graphic design you could really make the card something that people would want to keep.  Print them double-sided and just take a couple hundred of them to the school for very little money.  They’re very inexpensive and they could be any size.   They could be a small card like this they could be a full sheet but if there’s a memorial then you can really make an impact.

Once you do that then just check off that you provided it so and all of these are checkboxes so that you can check them off and make sure that that you go right down the line.

The league is very similar to the student list and I’ve had this come up more often than students.  Like I said we’ve done this exact thing for one of my players.  We had just taken this picture of Ethan and we made this into a 16 by 20. We printed a whole lot of sheets for the family members – five by sevens and that kind of thing as well.   

The league president and I took that over and the trader cards that we made and the 5x7s and all the other stuff we got from the lab.  They got them to me in a few hours and so the same day I was able to get all of this and take it out to Ethan’s house that night and present it for them to be able to use.   Trader cards, handheld items, whatever it might be, are very simple very basic things you can provide.

So this template will get you started and you can modify it however you need to for your business.  Remember, you can do this for free with Google Sheets or Apple Numbers.  You can use a myriad of online tools too as you see here with Monday. 

Through Monday I don’t think I can put a generic invitation to everyone but I can as this is saved as a template I can send it to you individually so if you if you are interested in monday.com which is it’s just a great tool to have your team work together on whatever it is whether it’s tasks like this or much bigger projects it’s a place that they can all work together on and you know from listening to other things that we use both monday.com and airtable.com.

I truly hope you don’t find yourself in this situation but with enough volume, it becomes more and more likely you’ll be called upon to serve a family in this way. 

Now you have a system with which to handle it.

that’s it for now

I’m Mr. Systems and if you have any

questions I’m always here to help.


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