Tips for Taking Lovely Back to School Photos - South Wales Family Photographer
September is here which means it’s Back to School time! I worked as a Reception Class teacher for a good few years before becoming a photographer, and now as I’m a mum, I’ve seen both sides of the First Week Back. It definitely deserves the capital letters - it’s a rite of passage, a new beginning, an exciting and nervous time for parents and children alike. As a parent, if your child is starting school for the first time, I feel your pain. I’ll freely admit that I cried on Elsi’s first day at school (she was fine, I was a mess!). As a former teacher, if your child is starting school for the first time, they will be okay. I always used to tell parents that they might be upset going in, but if they were still upset after 20 minutes, I would phone them and we’d discuss the next steps. I never had to phone a parent :)
As you can imagine, I love taking photos of my own daughter, but she does tend to go and hide whenever I whip the camera out. But one photo I’m determined to get this year is a proper First Day Back photo. I want the classic ‘standing by the front door’ shot, but I’m also planning this year on getting some other shots too. So here are my top tips for taking lovely back to school photos this September.
Use whichever camera you have to get whichever shot you can. Before I was a professional photographer, I didn’t have expensive cameras and fancy lenses. But I didn’t use it as an excuse not to take photos, I just used my ‘point-and-shoot’ camera to get photos that were a record of that moment in time. Now that I am a photographer, I don’t have a willing model, but I don’t use that as an excuse not to at least try and get the shot. So whether you have an iPhone, a disposable camera, or the latest Sony mirrorless, use it to take at least one First Day Back photo. If your child won’t smile at the camera, can’t make eye contact, or refuses to stay still for a photo, take that photo anyway, because it will be a reminder of how your life really was in September 2019.
Record the details. I don’t know about you, but I love details. When I’m doing a family shoot, I love to get shots of siblings holding hands, wellies in the sand, or a tiny hand grasping pinecones. You don’t need to be able to see a face for a photo to tell a story. If you think about wedding photography - the bouquet, the shoes, the lace on the dress - you’ll get a sense of how the little details help build the bigger picture. So with that in mind, try and caputure the details of the First Day Back. How did they wear their hair? What did their shoes look like? What colour was their school bag? From a materialistic point of view, none of these things matter, but they do help create a picture of what your child likes and will be a lovely reminder of their favourites things as they grow up.
Be creative. When I’m doing a photoshoot, I love to be creative with the kinds of photos I take. Your child’s First Day Back photos don’t need to all be with them looking straight at the camera. Think about all the things that are associated with school - books, counting, colouring pencils, apples (yep, even in 2019!). Why not try and incorporate some of these things into your child’s First Day Back photos?
Involve the family. Going back to school isn’t just about your child. It’s a big thing for the parents and any siblings they many have too, so get them involved in some of the photos. If all the adults in your family want to be in the photo with your child, ask a friend to take the photo for you. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard a parent (usually Mum) say that they don’t want to be in photos. But seriously, your child won’t care if you haven’t washed your hair / put on make-up / lost 10 lbs / found the perfect outfit. When they’re off to uni, they will love to see the photos of them on their First Day Back with their parent by their side. Our daughter is an only child, so there are no siblings to be in her photos. But what we have decided is that she will have photos with her best friends and her favourite toys instead, just another reminder of what her life looks like right now.
Take the photos before the actual day. This might sound a bit strange, and I’m not suggesting that you take the actual First Day Back shot beforehand, but if you’re really going to go for it and get all the detailed shots and the family shots, you should probably take them before the actual First Day Back. I am 100% certain that I won’t have time to be doing a full on photoshoot on my daughter’s First Day Back - I’m committed to my job as both a Mum and a photographer, but I’d have to get up around 4am to get all of that done. No thanks. So instead, what I’ve done is have an exciting “let’s try on your new uniform” afternoon in the last week of the holidays. It’s given me the perfect excuse to get Els into her uniform, give her her favourite hairstyle and try everything on “just to make sure it all fits”. Oh and I might have snuck the camera out “so that we can show Grandma how smart you look”.
Get an ‘after’ shot too. It’s lovely to see how your child looks before they head off to school on the First Day Back. But what’s funnier is to see how they look after their day at school. It’s basically like the before shot, only with that added wind-swept / spag bol for lunch / dragged-through-a-bush / “I dressed myself” look. And it’s definitely one for their 18th birthday party.
Print your photos. The reason I include prints with all of my image packages is that I really believe that photos should be proudly displayed around your home, not left on a USB, forgottern about on the cloud, or seen only on a phone screen. So even if you only take one photo of your child, please please please print it, and frame it or put it on the fridge, or keep it in your wallet. Prints are not old fashioned, they are classic, they are timeless and they are precious.
I would LOVE to see your First Day Back photos, please head over to my Facebook Page and add them to the comments section of my post. I’ll be featuring my favourites in this blog! I hope all your little ones have a super First Day Back and that they settle quickly into their new routines.
Hi, I’m Clare, an Award Winning South Wales family photographer who loves working outdoors with natural light. I cover Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan for maternity, newborn, child and family photoshoots. Get in touch if you’d like to book your family’s photoshoot.