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First Day of School Photo Tips

child standing in front of school bus holding an apple

Taking pictures of our children on the first day of school has been a tradition for generations, from blurry sepias passed down from our grandparents to crystal-clear smartphone images today. While you may take pictures of your children all the time, chronicling the first and last days of school is a fun way to see how much they've changed over the years. We've put together a list of handy school photo tips to help capture that perfect moment and first-day-of-school picture ideas. 

School Photo Tips

Show everyone how proud you are with these school photo tips:

Take pictures before school, not after.

We know morning routines can be hectic. Even on normal days, sometimes getting out the door on time can feel like an outright miracle. If you plan to take pictures for the first day of school, set aside ample time to do so. Help your kids through their morning routine by having lunches and outfits ready to go ahead of time, and give yourself about 20 extra minutes to make sure you get the right shot.

If you don't have time on the actual first day of school, there's no shame in taking your picture the day or weekend before school starts! You and your kids may both be more relaxed, and you’ll have fewer to-dos on that big morning. No one will know the difference—and you’ll have a picture-perfect keepsake to treasure forever. 

Mind the lighting.

Morning light can be tricky. If you take your pictures inside, you might have to contend with back-light and unnecessary shadows. To help fix that, consider investing in a ring light. By securing one to your camera, you can minimize shadows and get more flattering light indoors. If possible, take your photos outside instead. Natural light will help capture your child more clearly. Plus, there’s more space to move around outside, so you have more options for angles and poses.

Cherish the outtakes.

Let's face it—life with kids is anything but predictable. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we just can't get the pic we want. Maybe one kid refuses to look at the camera. Maybe you notice the other is wearing two different shoes after you've taken the picture. Whatever the case, cherish those “oops” moments. These little hiccups make our children unique, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

We know the back-to-school transition can be tough. Check out tips to prepare for the new school year and keep the first-day stress-free. 

Pick a location that makes sense.

Kids and parents generally feel more at ease taking pictures at home—on the doorstep or front yard—so keep it that way if that’s the case. Let your child hold a chalkboard sign or letter board to amp up the creativity, but keep it simple. Don’t crowd your sign with too many words or small print; it’s hard to read and detracts from the cute smiling face you’re photographing. 

Take portrait pictures, too.

While taking a head-to-toe picture is a wonderful way to show how much your kiddo has grown, taking portrait pictures will help you capture their mood and personality on this first day. Use the portrait mode on your smartphone to get a close-up of your child’s head and shoulders. Let them be silly, natural, or pensive—whatever feeling they’re feeling. You’ll appreciate the variety of images and the thoughts that are expressed in each one. 

young child giving thumbs up on first day of school

8 First Day of School Pictures to Try

Need some first-day picture inspo? Look no further! Here are 8 first-day-of-school pictures to try this year: 

1. With a letterboard. 

Letterboard photos are a classic. Have your child stand on the front porch with a letterboard that has their age, height, dream job, and other funny facts you'll want to remember.

2. At the bus stop.

If your little one rides the bus, why not wait until you're at your stop to take pictures? This will ensure that they aren't late for their ride and gives you time to help them get familiar with the what, when, and where of a new routine.

3. On the playground. 

Kids typically enjoy getting their sillies out at the playground, so this is the ideal opportunity to use that to your advantage. Let them play for a few minutes before heading off to school. You can snap a few candid, unposed shots while they work off those first-day jitters. 

4. With their picture from last year.

Show just how much your kid has grown by having them pose with a framed picture of them from the previous year. Keep the tradition going until they graduate from high school.

Shopping for back-to-school is fun and exciting, but can also be costly and stressful. We have all the back-to-school supplies deals you need to keep the new-school-year experience memorable and smooth.

5. With balloons.

Balloon arches are all the rage right now. They're bright, fun, and celebratory--and the first day of school is something to celebrate! Set up a bold balloon arch around your front door, or get a few helium balloons to hold.

6. With sidewalk chalk.

The day before school starts, invite your child to decorate the driveway or front porch with sidewalk chalk. Have them draw school-related things or a picture of their favorite summer memories. Then, snap a pic and savor the art for years to come. 

7. With the parents. 

Parents play a big part in the back-to-school prep--and moms and dads should document this milestone, too! Jump in the photo with your child so you can all commemorate this sweet time in your life. 

8. With siblings. 

While it's important to capture solo shots of each child, group photos are great. Gather all the brothers and sisters together and say, "Cheese!"

two sisters waving going to school

How to Pack a Fantastic First-Day-of-School Lunch

Your child has probably worked up quite the appetite after their first-day pictures. With these lunch packing tips, you're sure to send them off with a lunch they'll love!