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5 Cute and clever back-to-school photo ideas

First Day of School


Calah Alexander - published on 08/24/17

Looking to create an annual photographic tradition? Try some of these great ideas from Pinterest.

I’m notoriously terrible at scrapbooking, or picture-framing, or memento-creating of any kind, really. But this year, with four of my five kids heading off for school in a week, I thought it was time to create some kind of photographic tradition … for their grandparents to print off Facebook and frame.

Naturally, since it’s a photographic relic of their lives, I asked the minions themselves to think of “the most special picture you can imagine to capture your first day of school.” But when my 7-year-old son immediately responded “One where we’re all naked!” I sent them to bed instead.


Read more:
5 Inspirational movies for the back-to-school season

Since my kids were no help, I’ve compiled my own list of ideas for first-day-of-school photos that will help you clearly mark the start of a brand-new year right now, and remember the passage of time and the special “right nows” for years to come.

1. Measure the time

It doesn’t matter if you go old-school and mark their height in pencil (or sharpie, for the rebels) on a door frame, or if you opt for for cute, personalized decals — growth charts are a tried-and-true way for kids and their parents to mark the progress of time. What’s more natural than a first-day-of-school growth chart photo op? Just remember to get a last-day-of-school photo too, so they can see the passage of time for themselves!

2. When I Grow Up… 

In the week before their first day of school, ask your child to spend a day or two thinking about what they want to do when they grow up. Then help them come up with the perfect costume for a photo shoot! This project is more time and thought-intensive, but the results will give you and your children a visual record of their passions and aspirations throughout their childhood and teenage years.

3. Superhero for the year

We’re a pretty superhero-oriented family, but anyone could get behind this idea: ask your kids what kind of superhero they want to be this year.

It may sound silly, but it isn’t. Do they want to be a champion of truth like Wonder Woman, or a beacon of justice like Superman? Do they want develop unlimited creativity like Green Lantern, or an unbounded sense of humor like Spider-Man? Or have they entered the teenage years and just want to be dark and dour (but just), like Batman?

Read more:
‘Doctor Strange,’ a psychedelic, faith-inspired superhero romp

Ask them what virtue they want to develop over the coming school year — but if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll fall asleep the second you say “virtue.” So find another way to ask and another way to get them thinking about it — then help them find a costume to make it real. The costume-and-picture element makes their superhero ideal concrete, and will give them something to hold onto during the school year … particularly if it’s a year that brings them trials and tribulations.

4. Chalk it up … on the sidewalk 

Sure, you could go cutesy-hipster mom and have your kids hold up individual chalkboards with their names, ages, grades, and favorite things on them … or you could take the high low sensible easy route and make them lie down on the sidewalk, then draw all that stuff around them. This has the advantage of being equally adorable, significantly cheaper, and much more photographically friendly to dreadful handwriting (ahem). 

5. Tell it like it is

I’m not saying that this is exactly how I feel about the first day of school, but it’s pretty close. Of course, I miss my kids. But during the summer, I miss school-imposed order and chance to make all things new for them while they’re away. And let’s be honest … our kids spend 80 percent of the summer alternating between telling us they’re bored and asking for snacks, so. Something tells me we’ll all be ready when the first day of school rolls around … no reason not to celebrate!


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