Back to school: Tips listed for photo success

Kellie Bishop
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by Kellie Bishop

As the summer begins to fade and back to school time is on the horizon, one of the things many parents think about this month is photographing their children. We have all seen or participated in taking first day of school pictures and the frustrations that can arise from trying to get your kids to cooperate for a social media worthy shot. Professional school pictures also usually take place soon after the start of the new school year. If you have not experienced it yourself, I am sure you know someone who dressed their child in his or her perfect school picture outfit, made sure there were no flyaway hairs, and then received the picture package with pictures of a child who did not cooperate for school pictures and is either crying, making a funny face or looks like they just came inside from an extra intense outdoor recess. 

While kids are unpredictable, there are a few things you can do to help make your back-to-school photography sessions (hopefully) go smoothly!

When it comes to taking pictures of your kids at home, such as for first day of school pictures, it can be very frustrating trying to get them to pose properly, look at the camera and smile all at the same time. One tip is to take your kids outside for pictures. The lighting inside is often not optimal so you are more likely to find yourself attempting more photos than you would outside due to the lighting affecting the quality of your images. The more attempts you have to make, the more uncooperative and restless your children will become. If you do have to stay indoors for your pictures, try using window light to help improve your picture quality. 

Children have very short attention spans and are easily distracted so it is also a good idea to make sure you do or say something to catch their attention so they will look at the camera. 

In addition, many cameras and phones have settings for higher shutter speeds. This will allow you to take several photos in a much shorter timeframe so you are not struggling to hold your child’s attention any longer than you have to. If you have a friend or spouse who can help you keep the kids situated and attentive, that will also help your sanity.

Finally, if you are able to include your children in the process and live in the moment, they are more likely to cooperate and take photos you will love. Although you may have an idea of the outfit and pose you want them to adhere to, include the child in the process. Let your child pick between two outfits that you have approved of for their first day of school or professional school pictures. You can also include them in picking a location and pose for the pictures. When children feel included and empowered, they are much more likely to cooperate with you.

Documenting the back-to-school season with photos is important to most parents because it allows you to capture the moment and later look back and reflect on your child’s growth throughout the year. This can be a frustrating and exhausting task but does not have to be. 

This year, try some of these tips and allow your child to have some of the independence and decision-making they strive for to have a more pleasant experience with better photos to cherish. Happy back to school season!