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Want that PERFECT back to school photo? Here are 3 tips!

It's that time of year.
The Bennett triplets' first day of school photo! | Courtesy of Holly Bennett

It's that time of year.

Backpacks on, outfits selected, and cameras out for that infamous "back to school" photo!

A quick scroll through your Instagram feed is all it takes to see how the tradition of the annual back to school photo is a staple in our social-media-centric world, where landmark moments get on the 'gram, or they didn't happen at all. Sometimes it seems like everyone has professional equipment right in their back pocket, and have just that right neutral wall in their home for the occasion.

Jokes aside, a back to school photo of your kids -- perfectly manicured or perfectly candid -- is a special way to commemorate your child's growth and achievements throughout the years to look back over someday. Today, it's their first day of kindergarten. Tomorrow, it's their first day of college.

Are you misty-eyed yet?

This "back to school" season, a wide new world is awaiting your child on their first day of school. Capture it while you can, and maybe start a special new tradition that will create lasting memories.

Are you ready to take that special back to school photo, but feel a bit overwhelmed to get the perfect shot?

Here are some handy tips to get a winner pic of your kids' special day!

1. Mind your lighting

It's said that light is the heart of photography. Good lighting for a back to school photo doesn't require hundreds of dollars worth of equipment. Use that natural light through a favorite window in your home to your advantage, or go outdoors! To maximize great lighting:

  • Don't have a window directly behind your child in the photo. the glare will make your child turn into a big shadow!
  • Be careful that the sun is not directly in your child's face. This will make for less squinting and crankiness!
  • Watch for harsh sunlight. It's surprisingly easy to miss things like funky shadows and glare on glasses or items until after the pic is taken.
  • In-phone editing features are your friend! You can adjust brightness and exposure after the fact on any of the best free editing apps like Snapspeed, VSCO, or Abobe Photoshop Express.
These props and this backdrop are awesome for a back to school photo!
These props and this backdrop are awesome for a back to school photo!

2. Grab a prop

Not only will a prop add fun to your back to school photo, it will help with any fidgets your child may usually have from being in front of a camera. A great prop can be:

  • A school-related item! A favorite notebook, a backpack, or even a giant pencil are fantastic props. Make it as simple or crazy as you want!
  • A sign with a message! This can be a print-out, poster board, a letter board or a white board. We recommend one of the last two, because you can use it over again and not have waste to throw out. If you really want to be old-school here (hah), you can use a chalk board. The message you write can be their grade level, their favorite subject.. anything you want to proudly show the world!
  • An old photo of themselves! This is a ton of fun and a kick to look back on over the years. Print out a photo of your child from the year before and take a pic of them holding it. Next year, use this year's photo and continue this time-traveling tradition!
  • You! Get into that pic with your child for an even sweeter memory. Have tissues on hand!
Hop into that back to school photo yourself, and make this day special for the whole family!
Hop into that back to school photo yourself, and make this day special for the whole family!

3. Keep it simple and genuine!

Try not to put lots of pressure on yourself or your child to create the perfect back to school photo for your feed. This is a fun moment! Here are a few tips to make not just the end product special, but to keep the experience positive:

  • Some of the best shots are candid, so embrace the unexpected.
  • Don't be afraid to get silly if that fits the mood. Let your children's personalities shine through!
  • You don't need a complex backdrop; a neutral wall in your home, or the front of their school, or even just your front door is just fine!
  • Try not to over-complicate things! Kids get tired and frustrated if ten shots later, there doesn't seem to be a good picture. Set everything and everyone up, let your kids feel comfortable and at ease, maybe make them laugh and take a few quick shots. That's it, and no one's late for the bus!

And remember that you can always make edits later. Focus on the moment you're capturing, and how proud you are of how far your child has come and the big adventure of opportunity that awaits you next!

Wondering what efforts Plano schools are making during COVID-19? Plano ISD is requesting authority to mandate masks as school starts, contrary to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order. Read more.