35 Back to School Photo Ideas

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These back to school photo ideas will help you capture the cutest pictures of your kids this fall. From how to prep for the photo shoot, to how to pose your kids, and a list of easy photo ideas to capture, everything you need for the best first day of school is here!

Two young girls hold chalkboards for their back to school photos.

There she goes! My baby is off to Kindergarten.

That moment that felt like a lifetime away when the doctor handed her to me for the first time is actually here.

She has been so excited, and then nervous, and then excited again over the last few weeks so I wasn't sure how this morning would go but she did great! She was all smiles and excitement which made it so much easier on me to just be happy for her and keep my own tears in check.

For such an important milestone moment, you can bet I planned our entire morning routine around the back to school photo ideas for my girls.

I do this every year, but the images from this morning were just that much more precious to me now that they are both heading off to the same school together.

With just a little planning and prep, you can capture priceless back to school photo ideas of your kids despite the hectic nerve-filled morning routine on that first day.

I hope you find these just as helpful as I do!

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10 Tips for Capturing Back to School Photos

Take a few minutes to prep ahead. The first morning getting ready for school is not the time to be guessing.

Back to School photo ideas for busy mornings.

1. Scout the Photo Spot

In the couple days before school, take note where the light hits your front yard so you know right where to put your kids for the quickie photoshoot on that busy first morning.

You don't want to be guessing only to discover they were squinting against the sun through the whole session when you import your images later.

2. Plan the Whole Outfit

Lay out every single piece of clothing, accessories, shoes, etc. that your child needs to wear on the first day.

We rarely lay out outfits during the school year, but this is the one morning I don't want to be arguing over where a sandal might be hiding. This also prevents last-minute confrontation over hair bows and necklaces. (Can you tell I'm a girl mom?!)

Make sure your child is on board with the outfit pieces you've laid out so there are no issues when it comes time to getting dressed in the morning! Otherwise you definitely risk a grumpy grimace instead of an adorable smile.

This tip flies out the door completely once your kids are in middle school so enjoy those elementary first day outfits while you can!

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3. Pack the Lunches the Night Before

If your child brings their lunch to school, don't waste your precious morning minutes fussing over that first lunch.

Get it ready the night before and have it ready to go.

Already overwhelmed about what to put in the lunchbox? Check out my list of 30 lunch ideas here.

4. Prep the Props

Do you do the adorable first day signs?

Have them already printed or mark your chalkboards with the appropriate info and place them by the clothing you've laid out.

Back to school photo ideas for moms.

5. Set the Alarm 15 Minutes Early

It doesn't hurt to pad that first morning with an extra cushion of time. Once you're awake, exude a sense of calmness for the kids.

Your goal is to keep them relaxed and as happy as possible so those smiles in the photos are big!

They're already going to be nervous about the first day, a smooth photoshoot will prevent adding even more stress.

6. Prep a QUICK Breakfast

The first day is not the time to be crafting animal pancakes or waffle towers.

If your child has a nervous tummy like I did as a kid, they may not even want to think about eating that morning.

Stick to something simple and familiar that will give them enough energy to make it to lunch. I was sure to have our fruit pre-washed and cut, their favorite cereal request on hand (Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the current pick), and a big container of whole milk to go with it.

To keep their moods light, I encouraged a little more playfulness than usual. It's a running family joke how the Peanut takes after me and my loathing of bananas and yet Little Pea and Handyman Tim adore them.

There was a little playful banana chase that I normally would have put a quick end to but let it play out instead because sometimes those first day shots feel so much more real when you capture the moments they take getting ready.

Back to school breakfast and photo tips

7. The Easiest Shot List

Your kids are dressed, they are calm{ish}, hopefully they are even smiling!

You have precious minutes before it all can potentially go sour and they want nothing to do with your photos. Do not squander this moment by fussing over where they stand or sit.

I head out that front door knowing exactly I want to capture, in this exact order for a speedy flow:

Each Kid Individually:

  • Close Up of Face while Holding Sign
  • Full Body Shot Holding Sign: So you can see the whole outfit.
  • Jumping Shot with Backpack on Ground

Both Kids Together:

  • Standing Together, Backpacks on Ground, Signs in Hands
  • Jumping Together

By shooting both individual pictures first, the kids warm-up.

You can have the child waiting their turn stand behind you and try to make the photo subject smile.

By the time you do the group photos, they'll be thrilled it is almost over and likely to give you the nicest smiles.

Back to School photo ideas for busy mornings.

8. Stand at Eye Level

While you are taking your shots, be sure to bend your knees and capture the image at your child's eye level rather than having them stare up at your height.

It is a more flattering angle for their chins and makes for a more intimate portrait.

Back to School photo ideas for busy mornings.

9. Get Closer

You will definitely want one shot of their full body so you can see how cute they are from head to toe, but if you're using those photo props I mentioned earlier you'll want to be able to get close enough to read what is on them!

Be sure to get in close and get a close-up shot that fills the frame with just their face and the prop.

You want to remember your child's sweet face, not all the trees and bushes in your yard!

Extra credit for remembering to do the same orientation every year (horizontal vs. vertical) which makes a collage easier to pull together at graduation!

Back to School photography tips

10. Keep it FUN

Despite the nerves you all may feel, this is a happy moment.

We are lucky to have front row seats to our children growing up.

Save the tissues for when the bus pulls away and focus on the joy and adventure this first day brings.

Every year my neighbors get the pleasure of seeing me model the jumping poses or jumping with my kids to get them in the festive mood.

Though I might feel a bit embarrassed at the spectacle I'm likely making, I hope that my girls remember that mom was filled with enthusiasm and excitement at the start of their school years. Maybe my neighbors are getting some fun back to school photo ideas of their own!

Plus, seeing mom jumping does make for some fantastic smiles and twinkle in their eyes for the photos. Anything for the shot, right?!

Back to School Photos To Capture

Need more inspiration for the memorable moments you'll want to capture of your kids' first day?

Here are some clever photo prompts to get you going:

Photos to Capture Before the First Day of School

  1. Shopping at three separate stores to be able to complete the full school supply list. Where are you orange pocket folder with three prongs??
  2. Kids’ back to school shoe shopping and the annual dash to find the best deal since you’ll just be buying another pair 3 months down the road.
  3. The knee-high pile of back to school catalogs and flyers all screaming that they have the best clothes sales when really your kid just wants to wear their beloved t-shirt and leggings every day, all year long.
  4. The long line at the hair salon when every kid under the sun needs their back to school haircut. 
  5. Dragging a pile of school supplies bigger than your kid into the school orientation day. (Pro Tip: We bought a wagon for this!)
  6. Kids obsessively organizing (and then re-organizing!) the school supplies before the first day, when you know those folders are just going to get lost or forgotten by week 2. 
  7. Incessant checking the computer all summer long to see if teacher assignments have been announced. And the cheers (or tears) when they finally find out.
  8. The never ending pile of forms and documentation the school needs to care for your child 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months in a row.

Photos to Capture of the First Day of School

  1. The epic crazy bed head hair your kids sport when you have to drag them out of bed early for the first day.
  2. Frantic laundry sorting to find “just the right shirt” when your perfect back to school outfit is shunned at the last-minute because it suddenly feels “scratchy.”
  3. Mountainous stacks of cereal bowls and a Tower of Pisa made of orange juice cups on the kitchen counter after a hurried breakfast.
  4. Lunch boxes all lined up and filled with the only mix of foods you know your picky kid will eat.
  5. The endless piles of water bottles from your constant hunt to find one that won’t leak or break and might have a hope of lasting one whole year. 
  6. The bus stop gang who all seem to have doubled in size over the few precious weeks of summer.
  7. The nervous faces fueled by butterfly-filled tummies, the extra long hand squeeze when they want to delay departure for just a second more.
  8. Watching your kid go out into the world from behind. Knowing you’ll be there waiting to be their safe spot at the end of the day.

Photos to Capture at the End of the First Day of School

  1. The cranky “I need a minute” faces when they walk in hot and sweaty and overwhelmed. 
  2. Kids who haven’t napped in years are suddenly passed out on the couch every afternoon during the first long week back.
  3. The never ending piles of shoes at the front door — cleats, tennis shoes, sandals, and more all in one easy-to-find but annoying to look at mess.
  4. The backpacks overflowing with new books and more paperwork to be filled out and first day “get to know you” homework.
  5. The joyous reunion between kids and pets who’ve gotten used to one another’s company all summer long.
  6. The crazy mixture of paperwork and cutting boards and pens and chopped veggies all over your counters as everyone huddles into the kitchen during the evening Prime Time of homework + dinner.
  7. Quiet moments at the end of the day when they really open up for the first time on how school actually went. Not the dinnertime announcement version, but the heart bursting “I need to tell you something” time.
  8. Tucking them in so you can do it all again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. This is life, This is GOOD.
10 tips for capturing the cutest back to school photo ideas ever

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  1. Pingback: The adorable Back to School dinner idea every Kindergarten Mom needs

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