Back to School Photo Tips

With the first day of school just around the corner, we have created some photography tips for you! To help you capture that first week back at school.

Yes - you heard us correctly - we are removing all expectation for the 'perfect first day back at school' photo. Read on for some more insights!

1) Aim for some classic AND alternative portraits

Of course a 'classic portrait' is what we are all aiming to capture. The perfect back to school portrait that we can share with family and friends, or print and frame on our walls.

BUT - please don't forget the alternative portraits. The details, the environment, their new shiny shoes, their bag, their hair. The car journey, the walk to school, pictures with their friends, the first week of school pick ups when they are so tired they can no longer walk to the car. All of these are images and moment worth capturing....and its your job to do this!

2) Stay calm

A super stressed mama with a camera is not a fun one. For your classic portraits, leave extra time to do this in the morning. Your children will be full of adrenaline and so will you....keep it light and easy. And if you don't nail the pictures on the first day - aim for later in the week. It's a fact that the first day is quite stressful, so if it's not happening, leave it. Pick your moment. Or....(and we have been known to do this) have a dress rehearsal the day before. When the sunset light in your garden is just perfect!

3) Consider your camera

Smart phone vs DSLR? Well this entirely depends on whether you a) have a DSLR and b) know how to use it!

If you have been on one of our 'Capturing Life with your Children' workshops then I'm sorry, but there is no option - pick up your big camera. Put it outside around 15 minutes before you leave the house, because its still hot and humid at 7am and it WILL fog up.

With either a DSLR or a smartphone, you definitely need to...

4) Head for the light

I can absolutely guarantee that you will get better back to school photos outside in your garden / on your balcony / by your front door / in the gardens of your apartment building. So, make a plan and head for the light.

5) Pose them and then make them laugh

Once you've decided on your perfect background, pose and then unpose. For younger children, twirling, dancing and jumping on the spot work perfectly. For older children, get them talking. What are they excited about today? How are they feeling? Connect with them from behind the camera. Natural smiles and expressions come out when they are feeling relaxed and comfortable and it's your job as the photographer to help them feel this way.

6) Choose your focus point

For portraits you should always have your focus point on your child's eyes....the corner of the eye closest to you. On a smartphone you can select your focus point by tapping the screen; on a DSLR you can change the settings from autofocus to manual toggling of your focus point so that you can nail the sharpness more easily.

7) Get down to their eye level

Position yourself and your camera at their eye level. It just makes for a more flattering and better composed image.

8) Consider your composition

Use either a centrally composed portrait or the 'rule of thirds', depending on the background and how much of that you want to include in the image.

9) Use a prop or two

Our friend Harkee over at As They Grow has created some awesome printable signs for your children to hold. Head here to download them. Alternatively pick up a small chalkboard; light box or pin board and create your own custom sign.

10) Take your camera to school

Capturing classic first week back to school portraits is important, but so is photographing your children in their normal school environment. We love these images that one of our ex-students Louise took of her little girl at nursery on pajama day. So sling that camera over your shoulder and use it!

Any more tips that you can think of? We would love to hear them!

Natalie x

Images taken by Natalie Robinson @ThePhotoClub FZ-LLC and Louise Holk (one of our 'Capturing Life with your Children' ex-students).

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