Many thanks to local photographer Melissa Waller for her tips on getting the perfect back-to-school photos! Want to show off your back-to-school photos? If you upload yours to Facebook, tag our Facebook page, and we’ll put them into a gallery.
Here are Melissa Waller’s seven simple tips for capturing those precious first-day-of-school photos:
1. Get ready. As in yourself, as the photographer. Take a little bit of time the night before to prepare your equipment. Make sure your camera battery and/or phone is charged. Put an empty memory card in your camera, or make sure you have room on your phone’s memory, and make a list of the photos you want to capture. It’s an exciting day, you will need to be quick with your camera to get those special first day of school memories captured.
2. Capture the details. What are you excited about and what do you want to remember about your little ones? Get a close-up of your child’s backpack, a photo on the classroom door, the contents of your child’s school lunch or their shoes! All of these little things may not seem important as the main photo you are wanting, but they can mean so much when compiled together to tell the story of their first day back to school.
3. Sit back and observe. Let your child relax by taking on the role of the observer. Take a few steps back, but still being able to capture some intimate shots is possible with a zoom lens. Don’t worry about photos without eye contact or looking at your child’s back. These shots can make it feel like you are taking a sneak peek into your child’s day.
4. Indoor lighting. The worst lighting situation! Many schools do not have an abundance of natural light available which leaves you to rely on fluorescent lighting. To compensate for this, increase the ISO on your camera. Read up on your camera’s manual to achieve this. As you increase ISO, you photos may become grainier or gritty. You may want to test this out before the big day.
5. Outdoor lighting. Use the best light available to take your outdoor photos, not necessarily the most light available. Try to keep your children in the shade and use a flash instead of a bright sunny spot where they are squinting and have harsh shadows.
6. Document change. Taking back-to-school photos every year is such a great opportunity to document your child’s growth. Consider taking your photos in the same place each year such as your front porch or that special tree in your yard. Consider taking a photo of your child and their teacher on the first day of school as well as the last day of school to see the changes that occur within the school year!
7. “The” photo. The purpose of the photo is to document that day in time. What does your child look like as they head off to that new grade? Take some full-length photos and some group shots, but of course, make sure to get at least one nice tight shot as well (above). Years later, you’ll be glad you did.
My personal photo list:
- close-up of each boys face (missing teeth and all)
- full length of each boy in new clothes and shoes
- my boys at my house outside
- each boy in front of their school
- boys walking away from me to school on their own (that one usually draws the tears)
- boys with their teachers
Fun photo 0pps:
- add an apple to any photo and it symbolizes back to school and fall
- add a chalkboard and put their grade level and teacher’s name
- make posters with the kids to hold to show how they advance through school
- get some props to make the numbers of the year 2014 in the photo
Melissa Waller is the owner of Melissa Waller Photography & Design, which is based in Monticello.