2021 School Picture Day Guide For Parents

Although going back to school will likely look a little different this year, we are reminded, now more than ever, of the importance of capturing special moments and sharing photography with our loved ones. This fall, the new addition to the Shutterfly family, Lifetouch (the photography company behind millions of beautifully captured school pictures) has created this helpful guide to minimize the stress and maximize the results of a new Picture Day experience during COVID-19. Along with tips and advice on how to best prepare yourself and your child for school Picture Day, Lifetouch will share with you all the extra steps they are taking in order to improve safety on Picture Day.

Joining with Lifetouch, we’ve made it our mission to capture life’s most important milestones – and that starts with your school Picture Day. Read on as we share with you our secrets and learned tips and tricks of Picture Day, as these are special memories you’re going to want to frame and hold on to forever. 

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What is School Picture Day?

A school Picture Day is you and your child’s chance to capture and preserve memories for that school year. School Picture Days first take place in preschool and occur again every year (sometimes twice a year) through the 12th grade. There may also be extra group photos organized for sports teams, clubs, and more. 

The pictures taken during school photo day are usually used in school IDs, yearbook photos, and can be purchased for personal use in a variety of formats and sizes. Additionally, school picture day photos can be used as photo gifts to friends, grandparents, and other relatives so that everyone can cherish your little ones’ milestones!

When is School Picture Day?

School Picture Day usually occurs either once in the Fall, or twice a year during both the start of the Fall and Spring terms. Sports, clubs, or other school organizations may also schedule additional Picture Days. Graduating seniors sometimes also receive an additional opportunity to take commencement or graduation photos for grad announcements.

When any of these school Picture Days occur, schools send out order forms and reminders to the students and their families. Notices may be printed or digitally sent, but if you lose the notice, you can find the time and date of your child’s school Picture Day through Lifetouch’s Find My Picture Day.

The New Picture Day Experience During COVID-19

While photography sessions may look different this year, Lifetouch’s goal remains the same; to ensure you receive this essential photography service and families can continue to capture life’s memories. While taking all the extra precautions such as protective masks, hand sanitizer, and 6ft social distancing photos, Lifetouch is working closely with your school to set-up a New Picture Day Experience. As a result of this ever-changing situation, new safety protocols have been put in place for Fall Picture Day to ensure the wellbeing of students, staff, and employees.

New safety protocols include:

  • PPE: Photographers will be required to wear a mask and carry essential sanitization items with them at all times.
  • Sanitization: Props, surfaces, and equipment will be disinfected throughout the day.
  • Social Distancing: Employees will follow new posing and social distancing requirements to ensure a safe and comfortable picture day.
  • Safety Training: Lifetouch employees are required to complete enhanced safety and cleaning protocol training.

Picture Day Safety:

Find current information on your schools’ Picture Day as well as Retake Days here. Browse by selecting your state, city, and then school name.

Why is Picture Day Important?

From after school soccer games, to report cards on the fridge, to recesses spent with school friends – there’s plenty of memories, big and small, that help make up each school year as your child grows up. Most of these moments are left uncaptured with no photos taken, saved only in your memories. But school photo days help to capture the special moments that represent that year. Whether it’s braces, a different haircut, a favorite shirt, or anything else– a school photo’s value is in the memories it captures. Missing a photo day means missing out on a tangible memento of childhood, joy, and special moments– so it’s important to plan ahead.

Choosing Your Child’s School Picture Day Outfit 

One of the most important steps in planning for a school Picture Days –choosing your child’s outfit– can sometimes be the most stressful. But with a few clear tips and tricks, you’ll have a picture-perfect outfit planned in no time. Check out our tips below to find the right clothes, hairstyle, accessories, and more:

Clothing Tips

There’s a few things you’ll want to make sure of before sending your child to school on Picture Day. First on the list: their wardrobe. Choosing clothes at least a day ahead of time can help you avoid any last-minute headaches. Additional clothing advice also includes:

  • Dress for the weather. If it’s cold outside, you should make sure they arrive to school in an outfit that keeps them warm. Conversely, if Picture Day is scheduled on a forecasted heatwave, dressing your child in warmer clothing (even if it’s your favorite outfit) could result in sweat showing up in the photos.
  • Don’t let their clothes distract from them. Keep bold logos, colors, or designs away from your Picture Day outfit. Including one of these designs might mean your focus will be more on your child’s outfit in years to come, instead of your child’s smile.
  • Focus on colors that highlight them and the time of their life. Wearing fall complimentary colors for the start of term Picture Day not only helps tell the story of the time of year but will look more visually comfortable.
  • Don’t make them wear anything they don’t like. They’ll shine in an outfit they’re comfortable in, but will look visibly less comfortable in one they don’t like. Help your child show their best side by letting them wear clothes they love.

Elementary school class standing outside for a school picture day

Hairstyle Advice

Hairstyles have come and go through the years. Some adults fear leaving their child with a regretful school photo hairstyle, and others are left to the mercy of a recent bad hair salon visit. Looking for a foolproof plan to ensure your child’s photo (and hairstyle) ages well? We have you covered.

  • Don’t get a new haircut right before Picture Day. If you’re planning your child’s haircut for Picture Day, make sure it gets done at least two weeks before the Picture Day. This will ensure that any bad spots have time to grow back in before the photo.
  • Try to stick to a neutral haircut. Recent trending hairstyles, colors, and other unique hairstyles may not age well. Find a hairstyle that is both neutral and something that represents your child’s unique personality.
  • Keep the hair out of their face. If your child’s hair naturally falls in front of their face, try to use hairpins, hair spray, or even a fresh haircut to keep their bright smile shining through.


Does your child love accessories? Are you worried about their glasses causing the dreaded photo glare? Or are you looking for guidelines that help you determine what showcases their personality versus distracts from it? See our advice below:

  • Don’t worry about their glasses. Lifetouch photographers are skillful photographers who’ve been trained to avoid the dreaded glasses glare. Just made sure to clean any smudges from their glasses beforehand.
  • Keep jewelry minimal. You never want a child’s jewelry to distract from their photo. If they do want to wear some sort of jewelry, make sure that it’s small or understated.
  • Avoid hats. Hats do little, other than covering up your child’s head and face and should never be included.
  • Keep makeup simple. If your child wants to wear makeup, try to keep it clean and simple. If their everyday style is already pretty minimal, there’s no need to change it.

A girl wearing a uniform and a backpack is ready for her first day of school and school picture day.

Taking the Photo: Things to Remember

Once photo day has arrived, there’s a few final things to keep in mind. We’ve listed some of the most important for you below:

  • Prepare your child for the change in routine. If your child needs structure, provide it by preparing them in advance for the process of school Picture Day.
  • Keep a positive attitude. As stressful as the day may feel, keeping a positive attitude is essential. Positivity will help encourage your child to keep a bright smile when the time comes.
  • Have a Plan B. If anything happens or goes wrong for Picture Day, having a Plan B will ensure no one leaves feeling disappointed. Checking with your school about make-up Picture Days and other opportunities is encouraged.
  • Most importantly: keep it natural! While some children may require a little practice when it comes to smiling for photos, it’s important to never overdo the practice. Over practicing can lead to smiles looking fake or strained.

Closing Thoughts on School Picture Day

Class pictures and individual portraits are a great way to create memories, as they encapsulate your child’s age every single year. While Picture Day may seem stressful, try to relax. The best results will follow! All in all, just let your child have fun and let the photographer do their job. The smiles will come naturally. And don’t forget to purchase your school picture day photos!

If you liked this guide on school Picture Day and you’re looking for additional resources, make sure to check out the additional content below: