After another summer has flown by and a new school year is on the horizon, it’s time to start planning your first day of school pictures. Nothing captures the passage of time quite as well as an annual series of images, especially when they showcase the unique personality of your little student.
Though there are plenty of simple ways to capture their back to school moments, a few tips and tricks can enhance your photoshoot fun and finished product. Add a few playful DIY signs for their first day of kindergarten or take a more casual, unposed approach by snapping candid shots during the walk to the bus stop!
We’ve compiled a list of ideas for interesting backdrops, photo compositions, editing styles and even homemade props to set the scene. What’s best, these photo ideas translate to all their special moments throughout the school years, from preschool graduation all the way up to their senior year.
1. Summer Joy
Whether in color or black and white, capture the natural exuberance of a summer day with a more artistic approach to back to school photos.
2. Senior Siblings
Before they both head off to college, capture those end-of-high-school special moments during an outing in their favorite spot in town. Catch their natural connection as siblings.
3. Take a Walk
Use a natural backdrop by heading out for a walk or a hike with the kids before the start of school. Try floral patterns to complement the surrounding.
4. Candid Sendoff
As their independence grows, capture the in-between moments of school days. Keep your camera handy as they walk to and from the bus throughout the year.
5. Pure Joy
Just after you’re done taking photos, snap a few extra shots as they come out of the pose. People normally laugh afterward, and you can catch the most natural shots.
6. Morning Anticipation
The morning before the first day of school is full of excitement. Before they head off for their day, capture all the special moments of morning prep.
7. All in the Details
As the year goes on, capture the small details of their school day to truly tell a story through these photos. Compile a school picture collage at the end of the year.
8. Sunny Palette
Choose a bright solid color to bring together two siblings in their first day of school images for a more casual approach to the matching outfit photos.
9. Pencil Prop
This playful first day of school prop can be constructed by combining a pink and yellow pool noodle with duct tape. Add some sidewalk chalk to the tip for a real, functional pencil!
10. One With Nature
Spend an afternoon rolling in the grass and taking in the final warm days of summer while snapping a few photos before they head back to school.
11. Artistic Adventure
Explore some abstract picture-taking tactics by heading out on a fun and active photoshoot. Don’t worry about coloring inside the lines—capture what feels natural in the moment.
12. Depth of Field
Get creative with camera techniques such as a shallow depth of field. Focus on your kids heading off into the distance while allowing the background to blur.
13. Hand Lettered Sign
Explore contrasting fonts with a chalkboard marker, large piece of posterboard and some chalkboard spray paint. Share all the best details about your special student.
14. Find an Adventure
The best photographs bring out the unique energy of each subject. For great photos and a lovely afternoon, run off and find an adventure together.
15. Personality Photoshoot
By the time your child reaches the end of high school, they’re ready to show off a little more personality. Make their senior back to school photo all about the start of a new era.
16. Ready to Go
Fill your photo with tons of natural light to truly capture the morning energy of heading off to school. Remember to snap all their school day details, including their funky new backpack.
17. Playground Pics
Why not capture their joy where they feel most comfortable? Head out to their favorite park or playground to take a few end-of-the-season shots.
18. First Day Name Tags
Making new friends is one of best parts of starting a new school year.! Decorate a dry erase board to mimic the friendly “Hi, My Name Is” name tags and let your kids decorate from there.
19. Photo Series Fun
Gather a collection of classic school items and snap photos as your child playfully poses with every prop. Group these lively images together into a multi-photo frame.
20. Casual Captures
Catch them at their end of summer best without the use of school day posing or signs. Let their unique personalities shine through.
21. Camera Swap
Reinvent the meaning of school photos by handing over the camera! While they try their hand at snapping photos of you, you can sneak a few shots of their new photo skills.
22. Pops of Color
One way to truly showcase the vibrant color of their eyes is by finding backgrounds that complement their own beautiful hues.
23. Growing Everyday
Pick an easy-to-repeat pose for their early back to school pictures. As they grow bigger and bigger each year, create a collage of their many stages of childhood.
24. Share a Secret
A great setup for an adorable and natural reaction on camera, share a secret about their first school day before snapping the photo.
25. Career Plaques
For a reusable prop, create a dry erase frame with fill-in-the-blank spaces for the date and their future career goals. You’ll love watching their passions change as the years go on.
26. Custom Book Binding
Add a special message to the spines of your kid’s favorite books with a little photo editing magic. Use a photo editing app to change the books in post.
27. Classic Schooldays
Capture that vintage look in your back-to-school pictures with the use of an old-fashioned desk, classic storybook and a natural backdrop.
28. Action Shots
No need to stand still and pose when they’d rather run and play in the summer sun. Capture their athletic moments on the field or at home.
29. Quick & Easy Backdrop
Set the scene in or outside your house by alternating three colors of plastic tablecloths from the dollar store. Change the color scheme for their school colors or to match their first day look.
30. Too Cool for School
Play with unique color blocking both in the backdrop and the outfit while adding some simple accessories that show off your little one’s style and personality.
31. Matching Outfits
Younger siblings want nothing more than to mirror their cooler older brothers and sisters at this age. Find a stylish matching outfit and capture their day together.
32. Charismatic Closeup
Back-to-school photos don’t have to follow the traditional composition of posing in their new outfit. Zoom in on their excitement before the first day of school to catch that big smile.
33. Serious vs. Silly
Line up the team on the first day of school with signs to announce their new grade. In the second shot, lose the formalities and strike a silly pose!
34. Storytime Sunset
Have a pair of avid readers? Head out to your favorite spot during sunset and let the older sibling guide the younger through their favorite storybook—a great image for the start of school!
35. Playful School Props
Recreate this timeless look filled with globes, desks and handwritten signs by blending a simple fall color scheme and classic schooltime props.
36. Colorful Crayon Frame
This adorable photo op can be made at home by gluing a large pack of colorful crayons into a rectangular frame. Change up the construction paper message for each year.
37. End of Summer Sun
Head out into the setting August sun to capture those final moments of summer. Just before sunset is considered one of the golden hours of photography.
38. Consistent Backdrops
If you’re looking to truly showcase the year-by-year growth of your little one, choose the same spot for their first day of school picture each year.
39. Bookish Photoshoot
Whether they’re fully reading or just getting started, playing with fun and casual poses with the help of a book leads to both sweet and silly images.
40. Big Sibling Mentor
Include your toddler in his big brother’s photoshoot to showcase how much he looks up to him heading off to school. Mix and match solo poses with moments they share.
41. Nerdy Dress Up
Celebrate your little bookworm by finding wide-brimmed plastic frames, some suspenders and their favorite picture book. This adorable setup will show they’re ready for the first day.
42. Leaf Pile Playtime
Leaf piles are both tons of fun and make excellent photo opportunities. Spruce up your kids school pictures by leaping into a crispy pile of leaves!
43. Busy at Work
Chat with your child’s teacher about snapping a photo of them in action during class or posed after school. This captures both your student and their classroom over the years.
44. Full of Energy
Breaking from traditional poses can be tricky. Set aside a fun afternoon to truly relax and let loose for a natural photo shoot.
45. Sibling Signs
As the years go by, maintain consistent photo details to showcase how they’ve grown. Print matching signs and capture that sibling energy in each image.
46. Grade Sign
Showcase a pattern in their annual photo by taking each picture in the same spot and with the same sign. Gather wood plaques, chalkboard tags and some chalk to construct this customizable photo prop.
47. DIY Ruler Chalkboard
Break out the wood stain and glue to build this school-themed chalkboard sign. Keep the same prop through the years as the board’s message changes.
Once you’ve snapped the perfect back-to-school-picture, choose a way to display it in your home. For a whimsical multi-photo display, try out this easy DIY photo hoop, lovely in a modern or rustic-designed home. Or, if one photo stands above the rest, mount it on canvas for an elegant touch. No matter your display, these first-day-of-school images will be fun to reflect on and act as beautiful reminders of how much your little ones have grown over the years.