Nikon Learn & Explore

Back to School Photo Ops

Kathy Wolfe photo of three girls walking to school

© Kathy Wolfe

To capture this image, the photographer had the girls walk away and then turn back to the camera.

Just as summer is about to end, it’s time to go back to school. Most moms and dads can’t wait for this time of year, although it seems to come too soon for the kids. Your first child may be getting ready for their very first day of pre-K or Kindergarten—or you’ve got older kids who are “old pros” at going back to school after an eventful summer vacation; either way, it’s a milestone event that’s made for picture taking.

Along with school pictures that show your child’s growth over time, taking your own pictures of your children going back to school is an opportunity to capture fleeting moments that you’ll cherish through the years. Try to come up with creative ways that you can take these photos each year, to create a memorable collection.

Even if everyone's social distancing, you can still capture some of the excitement of the new school year. And if your kids are home-schooled, it doesn't mean you should miss out on the milestone of the first day of a new school year.

Kathy Wolfe photo of two boys

© Kathy Wolfe

Sometimes all you have to do is ask your children if they'll pose with their sibling and you'll be able to get a nice photo.

Kathy Wolfe photo of three girls sitting on a colorful stoop

© Kathy Wolfe

These three young girls are dressed colorfully and sitting on an equally colorful stoop. They’re in the middle of a conversation, but the photographer could just as easily have asked them to pause and look at the camera. Try capturing both candid and more posed pictures.

Photo ideas:

For his first year of schooling, have your child hold a sign or wear a shirt that says Class of [year they’ll graduate high school]. You’ll want to have the shirt be a large adult size, with the idea that he’ll grow into it by the time he reaches his senior year. You could even have him wear the shirt each subsequent year until it fits him.

Write your child’s name and the date or their age on a small chalkboard and place it somewhere in the frame. They may want to hold the chalkboard, or not—either way it’s a cute idea for a photo.

You could use a magnetic board with colorful letter and number magnets to spell out Class of [year they’ll graduate high school] or her name and age or grade.

Get your kids and their friends gathered together at the bus stop each year. As they get older, let them have input into how they pose for the photos.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a girl balancing books and an apple on her head.

© Kathy Wolfe

For a fun picture, the young girl is balancing an apple atop her pile of books on her head. By not having her look directly at the camera, her expression adds more interest to the image—she looks like she’s concentrating hard to keep the apple from falling to the ground.

Since an apple has been ubiquitously recognized as the “gift for teacher” you might try to set up a photo with your daughter holding an apple in her outstretched hand or if she’s game, balanced on top of her head.

A great idea for families with a bunch of kids who are school age, line up all the lunchboxes on the kitchen table or backpacks in a row. This one is easy since the kids don’t even need to be present for you to take this picture.

For those kids who ride the bus to school, take a photo with the school bus in the background. Or you could try to get a shot of your child as he waves you goodbye through the bus window.

For those kids who walk to school, you can take shots as they walk down the block, or at the steps to the school, if its permitted. Always find out the school’s policy about photography on school grounds.

For a fun shot, have your high school senior hold up a photo of their very first day of pre-K or kindergarten.

If you enjoy creating complete stories surrounding your child’s first day of school, you could even photograph the outfit they plan to wear that day, as well as taking pictures of her doing homework after school.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a young girl waiting for the school bus

© Kathy Wolfe

A nice portrait of a young girl waiting for the bus.

Kathy Wolfe photo of a young girl against a colorful background

© Kathy Wolfe

For fun, the photographer placed her subject against a very brightly colored background. The words on her shirt—books, friends, recess—immediately bring to mind School! Look for creative ways to take pictures—and don’t always think that the background to an image has to be a wall. Here it’s the floor.

No matter what types of photographs you capture—whether posed or candid—you can’t go wrong. You’ll create memories both you and your children will cherish for years, perhaps even prompting them to take the same types of photos when they have children of their own.