Want to create a family tradition that you can cherish for years to come? Check out these 8 tips for the best first day photos from Kristina Rose Photography

Well, it’s the time of year and whether you like it or not, we need to send those adorable kiddos back to school. No big surprise here, but as a Christiansburg, VA Photographer, photos are important to me and first day of school photos are. my. favorite.

Luckily, my kids came of age right about the time Pinterest became popular and “the back-to-school-holding-the-sign” photo hit the internets. Oh man, I LOVE IT.  I’m so happy that I found it by the time my daughter started kindergarten.  I did miss out on her preschool photos posed the same way, but I *think* that I can live without them, but it doesn’t make me happy.

first day of school photos kristina rose photography

I consider myself somewhat of a pro at this now and my kids are certainly used to it.  I make them pose at the end of the year as well in the same place, holding the same sign. Yup. I sure do. I’m so proud of what I have accomplished that I have decided to share my

TOP 8 TIPS to Rock Your First Day of School Photos with you in hopes that you can create this awesome tradition for your family.


When I told you that first day of school photos were important to me, I was not even stretching the truth a tiny bit. I try to get up earlier than normal and get completely ready for the day before I even wake the kids. I want to make sure that we have the extra five minutes or so per child for a little photo op. And trust me five minutes is not a lot of time to get someone set up and smiling and to update your sign if you have multiple children. Honestly, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to spend a little extra time together outside waiting for the bus either, so the earlier the better.


Oh my goodness, the ideas are endless. Here is a link for a personal favorite prop. You can google back to school photos and see all the adorable poses and props that families use. All of them are great, but my biggest suggestion is to pick one and get married to that idea for the next 13+ years. Like most things that I do, I like to keep it simple. I have a simple sign that I write on for each child. I’m not naïve. I know that it’s going to be harder to keep up this tradition as they get older. I am completely aware that my adorable babies will roll their eyes at me because they don’t want to do it, but I don’t care. I’m doing it anyway, so that’s why I am a fan of simple.

first day of school photos kristina rose photography


Maybe you plan to do it on the front porch or some other special spot, but as a photographer, let me tell you – if you learn nothing else about photography you need to know this…lighting is everything!! So make sure that the sun is not shining right in little Susie’s eyes. If you’re on the porch, you might want to clear the spider webs too so little Johnny doesn’t freak out when it’s photo time. Morning light is usually a perfect time to photograph, but when in doubt choose a place in the shade or with a nice, even, soft light. If you’re planning to use your fancy camera and you’re not that familiar with the settings, you might want to pop outside before your children to get your settings just right.


You’ve got your spot ready, so now it’s time to grab the kiddos and snap those photos!  Most importantly, you need to ENGAGE THE KIDS!! Don’t just make them stand there and definitely don’t make them say “cheese”. UGH. That’s a good way to make them hate having photos done. Instead, talk to them. Make them laugh and get them excited. You know what makes them laugh, so pull that trick out. And as with any session I have, children know when you’re stressed so if you stay calm, you’ll definitely get some great photos.

first day of school photos kristina rose photography


You have to work fast, but I have a few must-haves on my list. I like to get at least one full body, one waist up, and one close-up. They are usually so excited about their new school shoes or another accessory anyway, so it’s nice to highlight it. Also, I like to get the siblings together and mom and dad, of course! See, I told you five minutes may not even be enough! Capture some personality too!  Sometimes we get silly faces, jumping photos, or photos with the dog…whatever hits me at the time. It’s basically like a mini photo shoot with mom. #photographerkidproblems #sorrynotsorry


Now get those big kids off to school…YAY!  Next, take a few minutes to cull your images.

What does that mean? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Go through the 30+ images you took this morning {who am I kidding…more like 100+ !!!} and choose the keepers. And once you’ve done that, choose some really awesome ones to share on social media. No need to be that parent who posts 10 pictures of the same pose. We’ve all been guilty, but we all know it’s a little annoying. One good photo always looks better when it stands alone.  Or better yet, create a collage like the one below. There are lots of awesome apps out there that you can use to combine several into one. Then, delete the rest. Trust me.  You will not go back to them. (side note…you should do this all the time. Your future self will thank you)

first day of school photos kristina rose photography


After you’ve spent the better part of the morning scrolling through Facebook liking and commenting on all your friends back to school pics and either feeling sad that your kids have gone off to school again or feeling guilty because you’re not sad {LOL!!}, don’t forget to PRINT. C’mon my friend, don’t let the Facebook’s “On This Day” be the only time you see your photos.  PRINT THEM! These are definitely photos that you’ll want to see again.


There is nothing more adorable than documenting the answers to some of those classic questions because kids just say the cutest things {shamless plug…that’s why I love these limited edition back to school sessions that I do!} So maybe the night before school, you can sit down with your adorable little one and chat about how they feel about school and take a few notes.

{another side note from this experienced mom…do try to do this the night before and not the night after their first day. they are usually a little grumpy and quite tired after that first day of school and sitting down with you to chat and answer questions will not be at the top of their priority list}

To help you out with this step, I’ve created a handy little FREE DOWNLOAD you can use.  And since you’re definitely going to complete step 7 and PRINT some photos, you can place a 4×6 right in that little box or you can have your child draw a self-portrait. What an adorable keepsake for your family!

first day of school photos kristina rose photography free download

Like what you seeing and want to make sure you don’t miss out on these and other sessions when they are first announced? Make sure you’re part of my tribe

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Good luck on that first day of school, parents.  I can’t wait to see some of your photos!