Tips For Taking Your Own School Photos 

In a blink of an eye, our summer break is about to come to an end as some schools start back later this month. Whether you are choosing traditional, virtual, or home school this year it is back to school season and you certainly don’t want to miss out on school portraits.  I love to start off each school year with a mini photography session with my kids. It is a great way to add some excitement and anticipation to the upcoming school year as well as document their important milestones in life. So if your school decides to skip picture day this year, you’ll still have these to treasure. If you haven’t tried one before give it a shot! 

Now that you are on board with a DIY mini photography session with your kids, like many, you are dreaming of the outfits your kids are going to wear. For this, I keep it simple. A lot of kids have an outfit that they pick out and wear for the first day back at school. This outfit is exactly what I want my kids to wear. It captures their true personality at this stage in life. Just be sure to avoid white and black or patterns and logos that may conflict with the background you select. 

Now that we have our clothing squared away let’s talk about the pictures themselves. When you are taking these photos you want to make sure that the pictures are not forced. Just let your kids be themselves. If you are taking the photos outside let them walk around and play a little. They do not have to sit still the entire time. This allows you to photograph their true smiles and glowing faces. Maybe even throw in a fun prop or two to use during your mini photography session such as a book, an apple, or your child’s backpack! One of the biggest mistakes people make with taking portraits of their kids is they don’t get close enough. Consider the composition and if you’re going for the ’school portrait’ look then get in close, cropping to head and shoulders for a horizontal composition or chest up if you’re taking a vertical composition. 

If you’re interested in taking things to the next level, think about purchasing a fun background from a place like Lemondrop Shop and tape it to a wall that’s near windows. Another option is to hang up a sheet or curtain to make your portraits look more formal. Get creative and have fun!

Finally, the most important thing of all to focus on is lighting. Whether you are inside or outside you want to keep in mind the direction and harshness of the light. 
Outside 
1. Shoot at the beginning or end of the day. If this works with your schedule, the Golden Hour is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. 
2. If you want a glow to your child’s face, position them so that the light is behind you. 
3. If you want the glow to be behind your child position them i front of the light. This also helps avoid squinty eyes. 
4. To remove the light from the scene use trees, walls, or buildings to block some light. 
In this example, I’ve positioned my daughter with her back to our house, blocking the direct harsh light that was behind her. She’s facing the open sky, however, which provides the nice soft light on her face. If I had her facing trees or a building, her face would have been dark.
jean jacket headshot
girl smiling headshot
Inside 
1. Be sure to turn off all lights inside the home. 
2. Find a window and use the natural light coming in to take your photos. 
3. Have your child look towards the window to add light to their face. 
4. You can in turn your child slightly away from the light to block some of it if it is too harsh.

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