1st Day Of School photos Back to School photos free easy printable signs ideas fast quick simple guide tipsYou don’t have to be a pro with a fancy camera to get fun, memorable back-to-school photos. The whole point is to capture your kids just as they really are right now. Little or big, try and take the time for this every year. Make it a tradition. To help you out, I wanted to give you some tips and ideas on how and what to photograph.

1. The Sign (you don’t have to be a Pinterest mom)

Yep we’ve all seen them on Facebook, Pinterest and the like. But it’s actually a great way of dating your yearly pic! When you and your kids look back at their photos over the years,  you will always know what year and grade they were in. If you are the photo-album type (I need to get on that), start each year with their back-to-school photos! So how do you do this without a lot of hassle, you ask? There are a few ways, just don’t wait until the bus is coming down the street!

– Download a free ready-made sign! Google or even search Pinterest for “2015 back to school sign printables.” Most printables will be in PDF format. That’s usually the size of a piece of printer paper. Feeling fancy? Then, pop it in an 8×10 frame. Take one off the shelf or wall in a pinch, but if you are headed to the store, double-check the size of the printable before you go. But heck, you don’t even need a frame so don’t worry if you don’t have one. A clipboard is also a cute option.

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Here are just a few links to some of  the free printables for the 2015-2016 school year I found. In order of above images: inkhappi, Skip to my Lou, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, Classy Clutter Creative Blogi heart naptime.  For more, I created a Pinterest board just for you to help you find the perfect sign and save you time. Just click here!

– It’s the night before school and you totally forgot. No worries, just write the year’s info on a piece of paper. Easy peasy. Have your kiddo make or decorate the sign.

– Make a sign in your word-processing program, Photoshop, or any creative graphic program you may have.  Save it and change the date every year then hit print!

– Get a chalkboard from anywhere. You can get a simple rectangle one at an office supply store, or a big-box store while school-supply shopping (put it on the list right now). Want to get fancy? Head to a craft store. I just saw some at A.C. Moore in fun cool shapes. Remember to buy white chalk. They also have the chalk pens or chalk markers (read to see if it’s permanent or washable before using on your chalkboard).

– If you truly are the creative type, grab some wood and chalkboard paint and create your own custom chalkboard.

2. Where to Take the Photos

I take back-to-school photos in the same spots EVERY year. I like to see how much they grow from year to year and it helps to do it in the same place. I do our front steps and the same tree in our front yard (for the preschool years even the same brick and red door). Shoot a classic portrait headshot as well as some full-length photos. Some with and without the sign.

A HUGE factor in choosing a location for your photos is light. YOU NEED LIGHT to create a crisp photo. Morning is a great time for beautiful light. Mind you, not in direct sun. In front of windows and glass doors is also a great option if inside. And let’s not forget the bus stop if your child takes the bus, or in front of the school sign if your child is driven or walks (if you do these last 2 make sure not to post the school sign or bus with bus co. and bus number on social media for safety reasons). I suggest you have everything ready the night before and start your routine earlier to get the photos without the drama of rushing to make the bus! I always get my camera set while they are eating breakfast (I like to snap some then too!).

1st Day Of School photos Back to School photos preschool details backpacks cubbies free easy printable signs ideas fast quick simple guide tipsFor preschool or classrooms you are allowed to enter on the first day, take some details there. Entering the school/classroom, finding their cubby, hanging up their backpack, nametags. Close-up shots and pull-back shots. Anything that catches your eye. For older ones, snap a pic of them in front of their car if they let you, or simply walking away with their friends.

3. The Gear

New shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes, school supplies and clothes are the details I love! Think about how fun it will be to look back in 20 years and see how the school supplies change! You can tell a lot about your kids by the gear. What they are into, their style. … Their personalities come out in the details. Get close-ups of things and play with angles to make your images more interesting.  The best part is you don’t have to do these on the 1st day of school!Rockland_Bergen_County_Family_Lifestyle_Newborn_Photographer_0644

4. The Interview

Their writing or art make a great detail! Take some photos of them doing homework, writing or drawing. For younger ones ask them questions and write it down for them on their artwork. For older ones have them write the answers to questions like: What’s your favorite color, what’s your favorite show/ character, who are your best friends, what grade are you in. … Ask them anything that you want to remember about them. Then take a photo of the art or writing or scan it or scrapbook it.

5. Reality

So that’s a long list you say. The good thing is you don’t have to do it all on the 1st day of school. Make the sign ahead of time. The gear details and interview can be done before or after the 1st day of school. It’s great to have the 1st-day-of-school photos, but reality and time might get in the way. So focus on getting one good 1st day of school photo and leave the rest for another day.

I plan ahead to make the time for photos in the morning but I’m a photographer and live for this! I even set the alarm early.  But even I miss stuff. When my older son was getting on the bus for the 1st day of kindergarten, I was a mess. Fighting tears and giving hugs. And when the bus came I couldn’t take my eyes off him getting on the bus, and I missed that photo. So I took it the next day. 🙂

Not there the 1st day because you have to work? Ask someone to take a picture. Even do a practice run in their 1st-day-of-school clothes. Make it a fashion show. Make it a tradition.

Remember, plan ahead, and if not, there is always tomorrow!