Back-to-school picture ideas: Capture their first-day story moment by moment

It’s almost time for your social media feeds to fill with smiling kids getting ready to board the bus or hop in the carpool. So we hope you’re ready for some AP-level back-to-school picture ideas, courtesy of Union Hill Photo Studio’s Kevin H. He shares some hints on telling first-day stories with a series of snaps. 

Back-to-school picture ideas: woman hugging child

Back-to-school picture ideas: Capturing the story of the first day

Back-to-school picture ideas: backpack hanging on hook


Setting the stage

Everything looks and feels different on the first day of school—even the night before. Before the morning gets crazy, capture photographs of:

  • The back-to-school outfit hanging on a doorknob or laid out on the bed or a chair.
  • A backpack filled with new notebooks and supplies—maybe with a card tucked in the pocket.
  • A lunchbox waiting on the counter.

Back-to-school picture ideas: striped socks and mismatched shoes

Back-to-school picture ideas: smiling girl wearing backpack

Getting ready

If you want to see real change as the years go by, take shots of your child prepping for school—first with help, then with increasing independence as the years go by. Look for moments like:

  • Styling their hair. Shoot from behind and get faces in the mirror.
  • Putting on shoes. Get in super-close for details of the shoes and the hands tying them.
  • Loading up. Step back and get a full-length shot as they wriggle into a backpack.

Back-to-school picture ideas: dog looking at school bus

Back-to-school picture ideas: girl walking down the street with Dad

Saying goodbye

Your little student isn’t the only one feeling all the feels today. Don’t miss:

  • Sweet moments with younger siblings.
  • Hugs and kisses from Mom and Dad.
  • Anxious looks from family pets.

Then you can follow your kiddo out the front door, down the sidewalk, and toward the bus/bike/car…taking more pictures all the way.

Back-to-school picture ideas: girl getting on school bus

And saying hello

At your school, are parents allowed to follow kids onto buses or into class? Then take the opportunity to grab a few shots with drivers, crossing guards, teachers, and friends.

Pro-tips for great shots

Back-to-school picture ideas: Father and daughter holding hands

Back-to-school picture ideas: outfit photo of leggings and faux fur heels

Back-to-school picture ideas: little girl laughing with her backpack on

Want your photos to really look good? Here are a few ideas from Kevin:

  • Morning light can give you beautiful effects. Get a silhouette or capture the sun shining through your child’s hair by having them face or walk toward the sun—then focus your shot and adjust the exposure.
  • Different angles can add interest. Vary the look of your story by photographing kids from their level or by shooting objects from above—almost like catalog shots.
  • Crop in tight to show detail. Show off a favorite pair of shoes, a fading friendship bracelet, or every freckle on those sweet little cheeks.

Back-to-school picture ideas: three kids with arms around each others' shoulders

Back-to-school picture ideas: boy making "heart hands"

Are you hesitant—for whatever reason—to put your child’s face on social media or your blog? Don’t worry; memorable photos can still maintain privacy. Try:

  • Silhouettes
  • Tight crops
  • Shooting from behind
  • Face-blocking hugs


Now your back-to-school pictures are all set for a slideshow, collage, or Instagram story. How will you use Kevin’s tips? We’d love to know. We’re on Facebook and Instagram. See you there!


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