August 3, 2021

Top tips for taking great back to school photos

As the summer holidays start to come to a close and attention turns once again to school starting, I wanted to share my top tips with you for getting a great back to school photo of your child. I appreciate that although it’d be nice to have a photographer follow you round full time, it’s just not that practical, so I hope these ideas help you get a brilliant first day of school photo!

This year for me it’s especially poignant as my son is starting school for the first time so my camera will be in overdrive (and my tear ducts I’m sure!)

All of these tips are applicable no matter the camera you’re using. If you have a DSLR that you’re not taking advantage of, then make sure you check out my basic DSLR tips guide.

how to take great back to school photos

1. Make sure you’re not rushing on the morning

Give yourself plenty of time on the first day of school. It’s going to be a big day! Either it’s your little one’s first day of school ever (and you’ve got the high emotion of getting them to school and keeping it together!) or you’re trying to get kids back into school mornings after weeks of summer routine.

You don’t want to be flustered so give yourself adequate time. If you think (or know) that mornings are going to be frantic then consider taking your back-to-school photos a day or two before the start of term. It’s to commemorate how they look at the beginning of the school year, right, not necessarily a requirement for that specific day?

DIY first day of school photos

2. Consider where you take your photos

Definitely give your backdrop some thought as it’ll elevate your photo. I know the front door is the traditional place for the first day of term photos, but our front door is in direct sun in the morning (and it’s flanked by dead shrubs – thanks green thumb!) so for me it’s never going to be the ideal photo location. Another consideration would be that my son’s uniform is the same colour as the front door so a little contrast would be better.

Pick a more neutral backdrop so your child can stand out and shine rather than a distracting background that they get lost against.


3. Get some school photo detail shots

Especially if this is your child’s first year of school, take some shots of the little details of your kid’s uniform. Their book bag, the little shoes, their crinkled tights that are slipping down round their ankles – all these tiny details will seem so common place come the Christmas holidays that you’ll forget them in a few years’ time. But you’ll want to remember them, trust me!

back to school diy photos
taking first day of school photos st albans

4. Include the rest of the family in back to school photos

If you have more than one kid, whether they are at the same school, or different ones, make sure you get a shot of them together. Similarly, make sure you include younger siblings that aren’t at school yet in a shot. It’s great to show the passage of time in photos when you can compare them side by side across the years. Your toddler will be in school before you know it so include him now even though he’s not heading to school with your big kid yet!

If you don’t’ have other siblings, then why not get in a photo yourself? Or include your child’s favourite toy which is another great way to show how much they change from year to year.

how to take your own back to school photos

5. Consider these things when you’re sharing photos

Just a word on internet safety when it comes to sharing school photos – make sure you aren’t inadvertently sharing more than you are comfortable with if you put photos up online.

Double check the following:

Do you have location tagging turned on when taking photos on your mobile phone? If so, are you happy with the settings that you have on your social media channels in terms of privacy and who can see your photos? If not, you may be sharing the exact geo-location of your child, potentially also in their school uniform.

Would you rather cover up logos on school uniform with an emoji if you post pictures publicly? Or see the photo above where I got my son to cover his own logo up by giving himself a cuddle!


Are you inadvertently showing more information in the background of a photo than you want to; have you included the school gates with the school name, your road name or house number?

Have you accidentally given away a lot of information in your comments by saying “Yay, little Bob starts at Local Primary School today – can’t believe it, he only turned 4 on 13th August and he’s already off to school, sob!” while showing a photo of him with your surname, a location tag etc. A lot of information can be garnered from these posts.

And an important one – ALWAYS make sure you’re getting permission before posting pictures of other people’s kids, ESPECIALLY if they are in school uniform!

There is no right or wrong, it’s what you’re happy with, but these are just a few things to consider and decide what is right for your family!

Good luck at school!

I hope that your kids have a great school year and you get a brilliant first day of school photo for your album!

While I can’t be there to help you on the first day of school, if you fancy updating your family photos at any other point, autumn is coming up and it’s one of the most beautiful times of year to have photos taken. Check out the family photo gallery and let’s chat!

About Tori

Hi I’m Tori, welcome to the home of all things happy! Here I reckon you’ll find some of the happiest photos in Hertfordshire…I love being around love so I was made for photography. Your wedding, your family days, your passion projects; they all give me the grins. Anything you want to chat about, I’ve probably seen it so get in touch because I love a good natter. Plus, maybe we’re friends that just haven’t met yet, who knows?!