3 Tips for Back to School Photos

It’s almost that time again! Kids are going back to school, and we, Moms, get to have some time to ourselves again.. but not before capturing that precious “first day of school” memories on our iPhones! Which, let’s face it, can sometimes cause a lot of frustration for both, us and our child. Over the years, and after trying every tactic out there, I found the 3 tips that work really well, even with the craziness of trying to get everyone on the bus that morning.

Read below for the method I follow to stay sane while trying to photograph my kids on that first day of school..


A photo of Graham on the first day of 2nd Grade. We were renting our house and the bus stop was a 3-minute walk down the street.. so I took this photo before we even left the front steps with my Nikon FM2 to finish out a roll of film. And yes, that is definitely the “Hurry up Mom!” face.

A photo of Graham on the first day of 2nd Grade. We were renting our house and the bus stop was a 3-minute walk down the street.. so I took this photo before we even left the front steps with my Nikon FM2 to finish out a roll of film. And yes, that is definitely the “Hurry up Mom!” face.

1. Allow for extra time

Coming off of summer break, the first day of school usually involves getting up way earlier than you’re used to, making lunches, and getting the kids ready and out the door (hopefully with some time for coffee in between). So on that first day, when you have an extra task of taking a picture or two, you definitely want to pad the timeline a bit. So if you think something will take 15 minutes, allocate 20. Get up earlier than you think you need to. Pre-make the lunches the night before. Set out everyone’s clothes, and communicate your expectations, so everyone is on the same page. Get outside at least 5-10 minutes early, and follow the next two tips to guarantee a no-frustration process for everyone involved.

2. Test and setup beforehand

Make sure you select the best spot for your photos BEFORE you ask your child to stand there for you. Take a few test shots, or a selfie, to make sure the light looks good. If there’s a bus involved, plan out where you will be standing when it arrives and tell your child exactly what you need them to do (stop on the steps, turn around, and look at the camera). And if you have one of those letter boards, obviously make sure it’s ready to go the night before.. nobody wants to wait for that on the first morning of school. Good planning is going to make or break how successful you are at getting that great shot, so don’t neglect to be prepared!

3. Make it quick

As tempting as it is to get that perfect shot of Johnny going off to kindergarten, he is only really going to be okay to stand still for a photo for about a second. It’s unrealistic, with all the excitement of the first day of school, to expect kids to tolerate much picture-taking, so you have to be FAST. This goes hand in hand with the first tip, to allow for extra time, because that will allow you to not rush and to stay calm.. and with the second tip, preparing ahead of time. We take the time on our end so that our children don’t have to wait for us. Taking a picture should take only a few moments, and instead of asking your child to say “cheese” or “smile for the camera”, ask them what they’re excited about, how many new friends they think they’re going to make, or what how they expect their new teacher to be. Anything that gets kids smiling naturally is going to work in your favor and will make picture taking less of a bore for the child.


Yep, too cool for school.. but at least I got that “first day” photo!

Yep, too cool for school.. but at least I got that “first day” photo!

I will admit that I don’t ALWAYS get that “first day of school” photo of my kids. And to be completely honest, it’s always such mayhem that first morning that it’s hard to pull things together on my end (I’m no perfect parent after all!).

But with my little one starting kindergarten this year (and the two boys finally being on the same schedule), I will definitely be that Mom at the bus stop with a camera. And you bet I will be following my own tips from above to make sure nobody walks away from the experience frustrated.

I hope you found the tips helpful, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s first day of school photos of Facebook and Instagram soon!