Well, it's that time of year again. Earlier bed times, packed lunches, fresh haircuts and more structured routines are on the horizon as everyone is preparing for the bittersweet FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.
Since this day is such a milestone in our children's lives, a lot of people have questions on how to achieve great back to school images. I love documenting all of their firsts, and the first day of school is really no different. Here are some tips for how to get some good shots:
Make sure the sun is behind the children. Creating beautiful images in the bright sun can be tricky, but if you are trying to capture some of the chaos and wanting true first day of school images, it will likely be bright out. Help combat harsh shadows and squinty eyes by having the kiddos stand with the sun behind them. If you have a shady spot, that works even better!
Take a variety of shots. I like to take some posed shots of each of my kids, then maybe one or two of them together, and then some candids of them goofing around...because let's face it, any time my kids are in front of the camera, they are goofing around. However, that IS them, so why not savor those memories, too? I love to grab a full body shot, showing off their new backpacks and kicks, but what I REALLY love as a mom and a photographer is a close up of their sweet little faces. Capture all of those important details...freckles, beautiful eyes, toothless grin...you will want to remember it all and they will change in the blink of an eye. Lastly, if I can, I like to get a few shots with their friends.
And who in their right mind wouldn't want these memories?!
Preserving the details of these adorable faces!!
This is a super fun crew! We miss you, G Family! <3
Get some action shots, too! Don't think that it's mundane to take a few shots of them packing up their backpack, or putting on their shoes. Those are some of my favorites! Other ideas include combing their hair, brushing their teeth, waiting at the bus stop, getting on the bus or in the car. And don't forget to snap a pic of them coming off the bus if you are available. They are usually great pics, with big smiles and little feet running to tell you all of the details of their first day!
Use a few props! This year at the Dollar Spot in Target, I found an awesome little sign that had spots for all of the important details. You can write on it with dry erase marker, so all I had to was fill in the information for one kid, snap the pic, wipe it clean, and fill in the information for the next kid. Easy, fast, fun. Thank you, Target! I have also used printables, like the adorable FREE one below from Paper Trails Design: http://www.papertraildesign.com/first-day-of-school-sign-free-printable/ If you can't get your hands on any of those items, take a picture of your kiddo in front of a plainly painted wall. You can add all of the important details later by uploading your pic to your computer and using any editing app/software. Easy peasy!
Capture any First Day of School Traditions. I am a sucker for a good tradition, even though it sometimes annoys the other members of my family. That doesn't deter me though, because I know one day they will look back on those memories and LOVE them! Some of the first day of school traditions we do are:
Pancakes for Breakfast
Notes in the Lunchbox
Warm, Homemade Cookies When You Get Home
Show Growth Over Time. You can also take a picture of your little one in the same spot each year. This seems monotonous, but it's amazing to see how much those little people grow in just one school year! It surprises me every single time. I like to take one on the first day of school to compare year to year, but then I also take one at the end of the school year to just compare how much they have changed in those ten months.
This is the difference in ONE SCHOOL YEAR! He looks like a different kid!
From baby to big girl in 10 short months! (Don't mind the PJ's, it was pajama day on the last day of school!)
Don't be Afraid to Get in the Picture. This is a huge one for me. My children are extremely well documented, but if I fell off the face of the Earth tomorrow, they would have to search long and hard to find a picture of me, especially one that I actually like! As mom's we are usually the ones snapping away, but I encourage you to learn how to use the timer on your camera, invest in a remote or for goodness sakes, take a back to school selfie with your kid! Your imperfections won't matter a couple of years down the line, and you'll be so happy you did it. Guess who doesn't have one to share?! This is my goal this year :)
Classroom Pictures. Sometimes parents aren't allowed in the classroom on the first day, but if you are, take your camera and take advantage of your good luck! Take a few shots of your kiddo in front of their school, at their new desk, with their teacher, in front of their classroom door, by their cubby, with their best friend. Those are all really cute memories.
Is this all overwhelming to you? If so, then don't do it the first day of school. Stage a little photoshoot of your kiddos a few days before school and relive the stress. It will take a few minutes, you won't be rushed on the first day, and your kids won't have so much excitement and nervousness. Obviously, some of pics above were not done on actual school days...but who cares? They are cute nonetheless, and in that same timeframe. On the actual day, you can just photograph the details and traditions, and spend the rest of the time loving on them.
HAVE FUN!!! This seems so obvious, but so many of us stress when picture taking is involved. That's not what it's about. You may have a perfect scenario in your head, and 9 times out of 10 it's not going to go down like that, but guess what? You will still end up loving whatever you capture and THAT's what's important.
When all is done, hug them tight, kiss them all over, tell them you love them, send them off for a great first day, grab yourself a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to relax; you've earned it!