Learn to Shoot Memorable First Day of School Photos

Look for Unique Photographic Opportunities

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Even though they might not admit it, most kids love the first day of school. (It's just the other 179 days that they don't look forward to attending.) With the new clothing and new backpacks, kids usually will be willing subjects when you want to shoot that first day of school photograph. Use these tips to make sure your first day of school photo goes as well as the first day of school!

  • Think ahead. Consider shooting some photos of your child picking his or her first day of school clothing or sorting his or her school supplies in the days leading up to the first day of school. Try to capture images of some of the anticipation and excitement your child has for the first day of school.
  • Prepare early. Just like you ask the kids to make sure they have everything ready the night before the first day of school, so they aren't rushing around looking for needed items in the morning, make sure your camera is ready to go the night before. Have a charged battery and a memory card with plenty of space on it ready to go.
  • Have a plan. If you want to shoot some specific photos, such as your child walking down the sidewalk while mom watches from the doorway, make the plan ahead of time. Give yourself enough time to take all of the photos you want, while allowing your child to get to class on time.
  • Avoid the strict posed photos. Keep in mind that your child will be in a school photo a few weeks after the school year starts that you can purchase. These professionally shot portrait photos all have the same look, so you know what you’ll be getting ahead of time. Don’t shoot a photo where your student is strictly posed on the first day of school, so you don’t end up with a duplicate of the photo that will be shot in a few weeks.
  • Know the school's rules. Before you make plans to follow your son or daughter around for a few hours and shoot dozens of first day of school photos, make sure the school will allow it. The school may have rules preventing parents from shooting photos during the school day or from entering the building without permission.
  • Find favorite activities. If your child is particularly looking forward to a certain activity at school on that first day, such as playing on a new piece of playground equipment, music class, or art, try to capture some photos showcasing your child in that activity. Again, check with the teacher or coach for permission before shooting any photos.
  • School activities. For children who participate on sports teams at school or who are in organized activities at school, such as the band, the cheerleaders, or the football team, most schools give you a chance to purchase photos of the team that will be shot later. Most schools also will offer individual photos of the children in their uniform at the same time for purchase. So don’t worry about finding a way to shoot photos of your child with his or her team on the first day of school. Look for other photo opportunities that are more spontaneous on the first day.
  • Get low. As always when shooting photos of children, crouch down so that you're at eye level with them. Photos featuring children shot at this angle almost always look better than photos shot from above the child's eye level.
  • Year to year comparisons. First day of school photographs are great for documenting the growth of your child over the years, so keep all of your first day of school photos sorted together.
  • Have an extra camera? If you have an older camera that you are willing to let your student borrow, or if your child has his or her own camera, let them tell their own story of the first day of school by shooting some photos on their own ... as long as the school will allow it. They'll come up with some very interesting images!