Where I live, school starts in just a couple weeks. While I am not ready, AT ALL, my daughter can’t wait! This will be her first year at school and she has been waiting for this for a long time.


With back to school comes some great opportunities for milestone photos. Each year brings growth in so many ways for your child.


Some of these back to school photo ideas work better for younger kids and some will work better for older kids. Either way, you don’t need a huge collection of photos to capture the milestone of starting a new year, but do choose a few photos that fit with your family and your child.

Back to school photo ideas

Here’s a list of back to school photos I take each year with a few tips to getting just the right photo.


1. With a sign

This is probably the most common photo you see on social media. Your child holding a sign with a bit of information about the coming school year, interests, etc. This sign does not have to be fancy. I like to make sure the sign has the grade listed, but anything else is optional.


Your sign could say, First Day of First Grade and be perfectly sufficient.


Some other ideas you may include are:

  • When I grow up I want to…, (leave off the word ‘be’ so you leave the options open for your kiddo. ‘I want to be’ pins them into a profession where as, ‘I want to’ leaves the possibilities wide open for want they want to do.)


  • This year I hope to…


  • I love to…


  • My favorite color, food, activity, sport is…


Honestly, most of these things can be left off the list. I personally use the first 3.

  • First day of _______ Grade
  • When I grow up, I want to…
  • This year I hope to…



Get yourself a piece of wood or a foam board, paint it with chalkboard paint, and you can use it year after year. I like to take this photo by our front door each year. Even if we move, it will be fun to see where we lived as the kids went through school.

Back to school photo ideas

2. Buying school supplies

Taking a photo of your kids picking out their crayons, backpacks, or new clothes is a great way to capture their personality and excitement. We don’t spend a lot of money at back to school, but we do make it an event. It’s important to me that my kids see that I am excited about them getting to go to school and all they will learn that year. I also want to show them that I support their very hard work. Just like I need something to complete my job as an adult, they need things to help them complete their work.


  • Take a photo of your child looking up at all the supplies from behind.
  • Get a photo of their hands holding a new box of crayons or other item.
  • Try to get a photo of their expression at some point during the experience.
  • Last, take a photo of your child carrying the bag (or a bag) of the supplies out of the store to show their size.


  • Use the light in the store rather than a flash when possible. Most larger stores have decent light (although you may need to manipulate your white balance a bit). Using a flash will change the overall coloring of the photo and leave you with a yellow photo.


  • Open up your aperture (small f-stop number) to focus on your child and blur out the colorful background for a really dramatic shot.


  • With a best friend or a small group of friends from the previous year(s).

This is one of my favorites! As time passes, it is so fun to see how friendships grow and how new ones blossom. When possible, take this picture at school as the kids line up together or at the end of the day as they are leaving to go home. This way you can capture them with their backpacks on and first day of school outfits. In younger kids at least, you usually get some great smiles as they first see each other again after some time away from summer break.

back to school photo ideas

3. Going into school and/or coming out

This one seems a bit obvious, but sometimes we get so rushed we forget to slow down and capture some of the most obvious photos. Take a few photos as your child stands in line with friends or walks in the door. If your child rides the bus you can certainly substitute this photo for taking a photo of your child getting onto the bus or waiting for the bus with friends. Either photo will be just as precious.

The same can be fun for the end of the day. photograph your child coming out of the school or getting off the bus from their first day at school.


Take the photo right outside of the school and make sure to get the entrance and/or school name in the background. This will help you archive what school your child was at each age. If your child stays at the same school, you will get to keep track of the growth from one grade to the next.


4. Your child’s profile

At least once a year I like to take a profile shot of my kids. The beginning of the school year is a perfect opportunity to get this photo. Simply take a photo from the side while your child eats breakfast, gets their shoes on or gets ready for the day. I love to compare these photos each year. It is amazing how my children’s faces and features change every year.



Try to get directly to the side for this photo so you get a good line of the profile. Make sure to keep your child’s face crystal clear and focus directly on the eyes to ensure a sharp image. For more about getting super sharp focus in your photographs read, “How to take super sharp photos of your kids”.


5. With siblings

If you have more than one child in school, you can easily take your first day of school photo with each child holding a sign of their prospective year. Or, just add the siblings into any photo you ar e already taking. This way you get a great memory of the age of each child, whether school age or not.



Try taking a stair step photo. Line your kiddos up, tallest to shortest, to capture the height differences. Throughout the years, the order may change as your children grow at different rates.

back to school photos

6. With you

Don’t forget this one. Get a photo with your child on their first day of school. I am sure you have thousands of photos of your kids, but very few with them. Make sure to take a moment to capture a photo with you in it.


I hope your family experiences an amazing school year. Remember, your attitude towards school will greatly impact your child’s atttitude towards school and may dictate their success. Encourage your child and show your excitement for the year by taking a few photos of the start of the year.




Back to school photo ideas Back to school photo ideas