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Capturing Memorable Back to School Photos

Has your school year started? We’ve been easing back in because, while I had every intention of schooling throughout the summer, we just had too much fun to stop for math. We decided to extend the fun with a personality-filled back to school photo shoot to get us in the mood to start next week.

And…guess what?

I realized that you don’t need to be an expert photographer to capture memorable back to school photos. With these tips, you and your children will make memories and play together – while getting fun pictures that really show your kids’ personalities.


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Aren’t those great? They may not be the most staged, and while they won’t win any awards for perfect composition and lighting, they were a blast to take, and the kids love them.

Try these tips for making your own memories to kick off your school year:


Use What You Have

I have an 11-year old Canon Rebel camera body and a few good lenses. Eleven years ago, it was great. Compared to the camera bodies available today, it’s a dinosaur. And it’s big. And heavy.

There’s also a point and shoot I use regularly. If I’m taking photos of the kids, I’ll set it on the portrait setting, which blurs the background a bit. It is an easy way to use the camera settings to do the work for you.


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If I’m home, I pull out my Canon and play around with the manual settings a bit, though I also rely on my Canon’s portrait setting a lot. I can take lots and lots of photos because all I’m losing is disk space, and I know that I can delete all of those extra pictures.

Honestly, though… the best camera is the one you have with you, and my iPhone 5c is always in my pocket and its camera is fantastic. I get great shots on the go, and can easily upload them to my computer to use them on the site, print them, or put them in online albums.

My new favorite camera toys are the OlloClip 3 in 1 lens and this cool tripod I bought for my iPhone. I am also loving this simple dimmable light panel for my Canon.

You can take fabulous photos with whatever camera you have – whether you want them to be personality infused, technically awesome, or both. My friend Pam shares some great tips for getting an awesome and technically beautiful shot of your kids.


Plan Ahead

There are some things to think about as you’re getting ready to take your pictures:


Think about where you’re going to take the pictures. Somewhere that is loaded with natural light is going to give you the best shots. Last year I took the kids to the apple orchard and shot the pictures against the side of their big barn.

This year, I took a more eclectic approach and just played around with the kids. Since my toddler doesn’t sit still right now, I didn’t even try to get him to. I took pictures of him everywhere we went, and the photo I used is from our trip to Cedar Point. It completely captures his personality right now – on the go and too busy to slow down for anyone or anything.


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Break it Up

Don’t try to take your back to school photos when your kids are tired, hungry, or just aren’t in the mood. There is no rule that says they have to be done on a certain day – or even the same day, for that matter.

Following your children’s cues and working when they’re fresh will pay off for you.


Consider Using Props

Trevor climbed a tree this year. Molly used the front stoop as a stage. Logan wore the butterfly wings she has been wearing all summer, along with the Frozen Elsa crown she got for her birthday. Isaac – well, he wants to wear his Robin shirt and cape everywhere he goes. He’s my littlest superhero.


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There are great resources all over the Internet. Downloadable grade-level printable signs. Suggestions for staged photos using desks, globes, books, and more iconic school symbols.

Be creative and really think about your kids’ unique personalities. You want to remember them as they are right now – not a perfect façade. They’re kids who grow and change too quickly – celebrate who they are right now.



Don’t get caught up in how everyone else does their photos. Try different angles. Get down on your kids’ level. Play with them and make it fun.

Remember that you don’t have to be traditional. You can hold your camera at different angles, fill the frame with your kids’ faces, crop out backgrounds, or shoot slightly off-center.


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I like to leave room on the sides of my photos so I can add text like I did in their photos above. For these pictures, I wrote in their names, ages, and current likes. It makes the photos personal, fun, and unique.

Sometimes I leave a bit of space on the top or bottom for words instead. The spaces are easily cropped out if they’re not needed, but they’re there just in case.


Let Go of Expectations

You never know what you’re going to get with kids. Midway through our photo shoot, I had to calm a meltdown because Trevor told Logan that the wings she wanted to wear were embarrassing. Kids can be unpredictable.

Watch your children. Engage with them. Play with them. This should be as fun as everything else you do together. You’re making memories. Don’t forget that. The greatest gift you can give them is memories. Good ones. Loving ones. Fun ones.


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Love your kids above all… it will come through in your photos no matter what equipment you use or what kinds of props you did or didn’t use.

What are your best tips for capturing your kids personalities when you’re taking back to school pictures?

For more great photo inspiration for your back to school memories check out the bloggers of the iHomeschool Network as part of the annual Not Back to School Hop.