7 Ideas for Your Back-to-School Photos

The following post is from Krystal of Krystal Griffin Photography:

7 Ideas for Your Back-to-School Photos at lifeyourway.net
source: Krystal Griffin

A new school year is almost here, and I can’t decide how I feel about it! I adore summer and hate to see it wind down, but after planning all summer, I’m always eager to dig into our new books, supplies and plans. No matter how you feel about the new school year, it’s big enough to be documented and photographed each year. I’m going to offer you seven ways to go about taking those back-to-school photos; use just one or as many as you like.

Before I dig in, let me just give you a few guidelines to remember: A photo with a happy child and good lighting is where you want to start. Moms and dads, if that is as far as you get, it’s ok. Don’t drive your kids or yourself crazy, biting off more than you can chew. Find some good light and have fun with your kids.

1. Growth Markers

The year-to-year comparison is a big part of back-to-school photos and a growth marker will greatly enhance that comparison. By a marker, I just mean some physical object or location that will be consistent from year to year. Some ideas for growth markers are: hand rails, chair rails, chairs, stair steps, a door, a stool, the bus, a bench, a fence, and a tree.

If your family moves often, a piece of furniture that you take with you might work, and doors are often a standard size.

7 Ideas for Your Back-to-School Photos at lifeyourway.net
source: Krystal Griffin
7 Ideas for Your Back-to-School Photos at lifeyourway.net
source: Krysta Griffin

2. Documentation in the Photo

Photos of our kids holding a sign on the first day of school isn’t a new idea, but there is a reason it’s so popular – it’s a good idea!

There are so many ways for you to make this one your own, from the information you put on to the format of your sign. We have a great printable that can be found here if you want to keep it simple. Some other ideas might include any place you can apply chalk: a small board to hold, a large board to stand next to, sidewalks, driveways, and exterior walls. Again, the information you choose to include is your chance to make this all your own. I would certainly start with the grade they are going into but some other ideas are: age, name, school year, teacher’s name, and school name.

3. Illustrating Preference and Personality

Our kids change so much, not just in physical growth but personality and preferences as well. Back-to-school may be a good time to illustrate where the child is at in their personality development.

A few years ago I asked my kids what their favorite subject was, and they held the corresponding book while I took their photo. Others may want to record what their favorite food, toys, activities, etc. are, or what they want to be when they grow up. Whatever you want to remember and record- write it down, add it to your sign or illustrate it in the photo.

4. Prop Possibilities

Ah, props! Don’t we all love some fun props!? Now, remember the part from the top where I said you shouldn’t drive yourself crazy? This is where I want to remind you of that but still provide some fun ideas if you are up for it. Last year was my first year adding props, and I kept it simple with: pencils, a few books and a nectarine on a school desk that we already owned. Yes, you read that right. It does say nectarine, not apple, in that last sentence. What can I say? We didn’t have any apples in the house.

Pretty much anything that adds some color and looks “schoolish” will do the trick. Some other items to consider using for props are: chalk board backdrop, maps, a globe, apples, desks, chairs and books. Also, school supplies that might include: pencils, paper, flash cards, letter magnets, glue sticks, crayons, paints, brushes, colored pencils and other art supplies.

5. Journaling the Day

For those of you who are feeling more ambitious you might consider journaling the whole day. From the getting ready for school, to the after school routine, you could record all the details. Once again, this is where I remind you of the advice I gave you above, but this time I am referring to the part about not driving your kids crazy. Do not get up in their face all day asking them to look at you and say cheese. Rather, be sneaky and think “photojournalistic”, and your kids either won’t know any better or won’t even care.

If getting this all in one day is too much, just try to catch a few items a day until you have a typical day pieced together. Some details you might want to include are: getting ready, breakfast, waiting for the bus, the walk in, getting to their desk or classroom, with the teacher and/or fellow students, break time and lunch if they are homeschooled, getting off the bus, afternoon routine, all the new gear (shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, new outfit, etc.) and as many details as you spot.

6. Documenting the Traditions

If journaling the whole day in photos is exhausting just to think about, but you want to do more than just one photo, you might consider documenting the traditions that are really important to your family. Some of these can be taken in the days ahead of school starting and won’t take the same amount of energy as a detailed record of the whole day. Because our family homeschools, we don’t need backpacks and lots of school clothes. However, we all love the newness of fresh school supplies, brand new texts and the fun gifts they receive on the first day of school. Common traditions that you might want to photograph are: school shopping, all the new supplies, special breakfast, the new gear (see above), and whatever traditions your family has adopted.

7 Ideas for Your Back-to-School Photos at lifeyourway.net
source: Krystal Griffin

7. Photograph Year Round

School is happening all year not just in autumn. Don’t forget the rest of the year and all the hard work your kids are putting in throughout the fall, winter and spring (and summer if you school year round like Mandi). Some of my favorite photos of my own children are the projects they work on. I can only take so many pictures of them at their desk, but their two-week-long creation of a medieval castle out of cardboard and 5 rolls of tape (ok, it was only 2) is the stuff that makes my heart burst. And I think that we can all agree on how satisfying it is to look at a photo of our children enjoying a book–

Here are a few things you may want to remember throughout the school year: homework, projects, snow days, sick days, reading, school friends, field trips, school parties, last day of school.

What is your favorite way to document back-to-school for your kids? And what back-to-school traditions do your family love?

Krystal is a stay-at-home mom of four children, ages 4-9, whom she homeschools. She is acutely aware of how fast her children are changing and is passionate about keeping family memories alive through photographs. Now and then she gets to help other families’ bottle up their own memories at Krystal Griffin Photography.
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