As a photographer, I often get asked for tips from other moms about how to get their kids to cooperate for photos. And with the first day of school just around the corner (I can practically smell the freshly-sharpened Ticonderogas—once a teacher, always a teacher ), I know I’m not the only one planning on making my kiddos pose for a classic first day of school photo!
The first day of school hits a little different this year because I’m sending my first baby off to Kindergarten.
(Yes, I’m having some major capital-F Feelings about it.)
He’s been asking, “Is it time for me to go to my new school yet?” *basically* since the last day of preschool , so I fully expect that he’s going to
walk run through the doors on the first day without a single glance back, just like he did his first day of preschool.
Knowing how excited he is makes it a little easier, but I’ll still be misty-eyed drinking my half-caff coffee this week, probs looking back through old photos and thinking cliché things like when did my tiny little bub suddenly get to be such a big kid?!
Whew. Got a little teary just thinking about it.
But back to those first day photos that I know we’re all going to be furiously double-tapping on Instagram these next few weeks…
The secret for the BEST first day of school photos:
DON’T take them on the first day of school!
The pressure of getting back into the school routine, trying to get out the door on time, and the ~emotions~ surrounding the new school year can easily lead to forced smiles, possible tears, and frustration for those of us who just want ONE NICE PICTURE of this milestone.
So lemme ~slide in~ here with my FIVE best tips for stress-free back-to-school photos!
1. Take those cute first day of school photos during a time when you won’t feel rushed.
Plan a time the weekend before or after school starts, so you can take your time!
2. Let your kiddos know *exactly* what to expect!
As a mom, photographer, AND former teacher, I can tell you that letting kids know exactly what’s expected of them is one of the BEST ways to set them up for success in any situation.
Try this: “In 10 minutes, we’re going to take some fun photos with your backpack to remember your first day of school! These are really important to me, and I want to do something fun with you afterward. What should we do?” Need an idea? It can be something like making ice cream sundaes together , or a water fight in the back yard?
3. Give them a chance to be involved!
Whether it’s a photo they want to take or a silly pose they want to do, letting kids have some control creates buy-in (and more cooperative kiddos). Plus, when you keep things lighthearted and fun, you’re more likely to get those GENUINE smiles that you want!
4. Don’t forget about documenting candid moments that tell the story of the first day.
Think: backpacks lined up at the door, a photo of everyone packing their lunches, a flat lay of those fresh, new school supplies, a photo of your little student from the back boarding the bus or walking into the school building.
5. Get in the picture WITH your kids!
Whether they’re going off to first grade or fifth grade, whether you’re dropping them off at daycare or they’re driving off on their own, this is a big deal for you, too! And years from there, your kids will love seeing that you were there with them, too.
As a newborn and family photographer in Columbia, SC (and also a mom of two), I love sharing my best tips and tricks with other moms to help them get the photos they want to remember this season of life.
Let me know in the comments below what your takeaways or questions are from this post, or other questions you’d like me to answer!