How to Capture the Best First Day of School Photos

A photographer’s top five tips for capturing the best first day of school pics.

The first day of school has long been a Kodak moment. But with phone cameras and the shift from amateur to capable photographers, that iconic picture has gone from a last-minute, front porch snap to a fully planned production.

Whether you choose to include a chalkboard, professional signs, and staged poses, we have some tips to get the best first day of school photos possible.

How to capture a great First Day of School picture

Our friends at SmugMug – the largest independent photo-sharing site in the world – have compiled a list of tips to make sure all the effort you put into the first-day-of-school photo shoot results in the perfect snapshots to share with your friends and family.

… Or, as perfect as it can be when you’re working with children.

Choose the Right Light

Aim for natural light. Taking snapshots in the living room can turn out dark and cast shadows across your child’s face. If you’re using a flash, avoid getting too close or your child will look more like Casper the Friendly Ghost than a fresh-faced kindergartner.

An outdoor photo will most likely look great, and as an extra benefit, you may find your child is more calm and less antsy posing out in the natural world. First day of school photos should show off your little one in the best light – that light being relaxed and natural.

Keep It Neutral

To keep the spotlight on the star of the photo shoot, choose a neutral the background. Avoid positioning your child in front of wild patterns, busy signs, or cluttered furniture, especially if you’re using props.

This sign from Hickory Hollow Studios is reversible so you can document your child’s first and last days of school. Pay attention to the colors in the sign to make sure they don’t compete with your child’s clothes or the background.

girl holding first day of school sign

Be conscious of how much information you write on the sign if you’ll be sharing it on social media. Some of them have quite a lot of blanks to fill in. It’s not fun to think about, but you’d never want to give strangers information on how to find or connect with your child.

Zoom In

In addition to a full head-to-toe shot, get a close-up of your child’s face, so you can remember what he or she looked like during that time of life. The missing teeth, the freckles, the ringlet curls…. these are all aspects you’ll want to preserve just as much as that butterfly backpack she just had to have for second grade.

Keep the Awesome Outtakes

Don’t stress if Junior spills his milk on his brand new pants or if Sally rips the bow out of her hair. Sometimes the unplanned messes make for the most fun pictures and memories.

Sibling antics, bed head, or the we’re-late-for-the-bus-already photos will serve as reminders of this time in your life. You’ll be sure to look back and smile… or marvel at how you managed with those crazy school mornings.

Keep the crazy outtakes... How to capture great first day of school photos

First Day of School Photos Should Be Fun

It might seem like a no-brainer, but have fun. Talk to your child during the photo shoot to capture natural reactions, like laughter, smiles and, yes, even, a frown that you’ll laugh about later.

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One Comment

  1. Schulfotograf Staudenmann says:

    Amazing blog! I really like the way you explained such information about Tips for Capturing the Best First Day of School Photos with us. And blog is really helpful for us.