Tips for First Day of School Photos

It's almost here for most of us- the first day of school! It comes with so many emotions every year, and those emotions are exactly what your kids will remember when they look back at the photos of this day- excitement, nervousness, fear, anticipation! Here are a few tips that will help you capture all the best moments of this special day:

1. Find a solid background for the posed shots

When I take the typical first day of school photo of the kids with their backpacks on all ready to head out to school, I usually take it in front of our garage door. Why? Because it's a completely white backdrop, which allows the focus of the whole image to be the child. I like to get close ups of their face as well as a full body shot, because in 10 years they might be totally embarrassed by the shoes they chose to wear or the fact that they tucked in their shirt! Taking the photo in front of a solid background, like a garage door, wall, or the front door, removes other distractions from the photo and brings all the attention to your little scholar.

Here are some of the photos I've taken over the years on the first day of school. Can you see the difference from when I was first learning about photography and didn't know about the solid backgrounds?

2. Get the whole scene

As important as it is to get those shots focused on just the kids, the environment is also meaningful here. If your child takes the bus to school, you'll definitely want one with the bus in the background. Think about all of the hours they will spend on that bus over the course of the school year, and the memories they will have of riding on it, or even missing it some days! Make the bus part of your back to school photos.

If they walk to school, get some pics of them walking down your street with as much of the neighborhood in it as you can manage. When else do you get photos of your neighborhood? Let this day be an excuse to document such a special place for them. Don't you think back fondly on the street you grew up on? Wouldn't you love to have photos of what it looked like when you were in elementary school? Your neighborhood will most likely change over time, and this is a great way to document what it looked liked at this time in their lives.

Our neighborhood isn't the most gorgeous place in the world, but we walk this sidewalk twice a day five days a week. I know my kids will want to remember it.

3. Don't forget the in between moments

You have that Instagram-worthy shot of each child standing at the door holding the back to school sign, and you've documented them getting to school, but if you're able to sneak in a few photos during the in-between times, it will add so much more to their memory of this day! At the school my kids attend, the whole school lines up for a short assembly every morning before heading into their classrooms. I caught this photo of my son standing in line on that first day at a new school, and it's one of my favorites to date because you can see his nervousness! I feel like this image encompasses all of those back to school jitters that he would normally never let show if I was standing there asking him to smile for a picture. It's during these moments when they think no one is watching that the emotions become the most apparent.

4. Get in that photo!

You took them back to school shopping, packed the special first day of school lunch, got them there before the bell rang, but did you remember to get in some of the photos? Give the camera/phone to your spouse, a friend, or a stranger, and get in at least one photo! In the photo below I had just given birth a couple of weeks before, but I wanted to remember what it was like for me to drop my oldest off at kindergarten on his first day. So here I am in all my post-partum glory! I'm glad I gave the camera to my husband so that my son and I can remember how I was right there with him as he started this new chapter in his life. I hope this image serves as a reminder to him that I was there in the beginning, and I will always be there to support him through all of his future endeavors.

Here are a few more favorites from when my kiddos were younger.

I hope this school year is a great one for all of you and your children! I can't wait to see all of your back to school photos in the coming weeks. May the carpools stay calm, the shoes stay tied, and the homework stay minimal!

Happy back-to-school!

xoxo,

Wendy

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wendycoxphotography@gmail.com