1. Cheat the calendar
A photo session on the actual first morning of school may be too hectic. Stage one the day before, in the hour before sunset. (Professional photographers call this the ‘golden hour’ because of its soft, flattering light.)
2. Choose an annual place
‘Position your kids against the same marker at the beginning of each school year, and you’ll have a striking visual of how much they’ve grown,’ says Thomas Kubik, father of two and founder of TK Photography in the US.
3. Play with props
A bright backpack or lunchbox adds a pop of colour and gives children something to do with their hands.
4. Stagger siblings
A group shot is a must, but do solo photographs first, starting with the oldest child; the group photo comes last. ‘The little one wants to do whatever their big brother or sister is doing,’ and so will cooperate with the solo shot, says Kubik. ‘When you have your child in position, add the older kids to the frame – they follow instructions better,’ he says.
5. Skip saying ‘cheese’
‘Smiling on command always seems fake and forced,’ says Kubik. ‘For younger kids, ask them to make silly faces or noises – then snap when they laugh afterwards. For older kids, ask what their favourite ice cream is. Then say, ‘Did you say beetroot ice cream?’
It doesn’t have to be a genuine joke to get them to crack a smile. ‘And if your teen rolls their eyes at you? Capture that! It’s an authentic response you’ll love later (promise).
Ask your child to stand in front of the school’s welcome sign, or make one yourself with their name and grade.