There is no hard and fast rule about ‘first day of school’ pictures that we see shared on Facebook, but most of us try to snap at least one (or in my case, many) pictures to mark a new school year (and growing children!)

Aside from professional, annual school photos, these first day of school photographs have become a tradition in many families.

Want to take a great picture on the first day? Here are a few tips:

1 – Be prepared.

Make sure your camera batteries are charged and that you have space on your camera’s memory card. Delays combined with first day of school nerves means you run the risk of everyone starting off the day on the wrong foot.

2- Find a great backdrop

While it’s wonderful to use the same location year after year, depending on weather, and where you live, it may not always be possible. Choose a simple and uncomplicated backdrop like trees, a brick wall, or the front door of your home so that the focus of your photos remains your kids.

3- Include some of their favourite items

Now is a great time to capture what your child’s interests are. Include their favourite stuffed animal or action figure and watch how their interests change year after year (or stay the same!)

4- Use a sign to mark the year

You can find printable signs online to list your child’s grade, or use small white boards/chalk boards. Many, many years from now you’ll be happy to browse your pictures and know which grade they were in without having to guess based on hair or clothing.

What I recommend is instead of writing everything out on your white board or chalk board, leave them blank, take the pictures with the kids holding them, and then use an App or editing program to add your wording at a later time. You can fill-in-the-blank space however you want with the year, the grade, a favourite saying and more!

5- They don’t have to be perfect

These photos are meant to capture your child’s personality on the first day, and not everyone is willing to smile.  Take the photos that truly represent your kids in the moment and don’t stress about everyone looking and smiling if it’s not going to work.

To capture their genuine smile, skip the traditional ‘look at the camera and smile!’ mantra and be silly. Make goofy faces and noises, have a family member stand behind you and do the same. You’re more likely to capture their real smile if you let them be themselves.

6- Candids are Wonderful

While they pack their book bag, or pick out their outfit, those candid, simple moments are just as important as the posed photo in front of the school.


For more tips and ideas, here is my clip from CTV Ottawa Morning Live!


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The first day is hectic, exciting and the morning goes by very quickly! Enjoy the time. If you forget to take that morning picture? There’s no rule that says you can’t snap one after school!