Capturing priceless first-day-of-school moments

Aug 12, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. ET

The first day of school must be one of the most photographed moments in your child's lifetime... and these ideas prove it! While we're sure you already have your camera or smartphone charged and ready to capture those big first day of school mornings, these ideas will hopefully inspire you to get you camera clicking in a new way this fall.

Just put the printer to work

First day of school printables

There are two types of moms in the world — those who know how to use Photoshop — and those who don't. If you're in that second category, don't despair. You can still have adorable, customized back-to-school photographs, just like the tech-savvy families do! Head to the fantastically creative blog, One Sweet Party, where you can see some fun, colorful options for free back-to-school printables. Yes, we mean that — they're free! To access the printables, you'll need to "like" the One Sweet Party Facebook page — we won't have to twist your arm.

We especially love these printables for a couple of reasons. First, our handwriting is dreadful and having it on display in our kids' school memory books for decades to come isn't so appealing — the printables easily help us avoid the whole scribble-their-grade-on-a-blank-piece-of-computer-paper situation. Also, you can print an entire school career of photoshoot-worthy sheets, so that your pictures will be cohesive from year to year.

Going digital

First day of school on Instagram

Raise your hand if you're guilty of only taking photos on your smartphone these days. Even worse, does Instagram hold the majority of the snapshots you take of your kids? No judgment from us — we're right there with you! Instead of putting pressure on yourself to remember how to use that fancy-pants camera that you shoved in a drawer the moment you had a second baby, embrace your Instagram-aholic tendencies!

Snap a photo of your kiddo on their first day of school, then tuck it away to do a side-by-side digital comparison picture when the last day of school rolls around, nine-months later. No searching through your desk to find that original photo you took or running to the drugstore to get it printed as you rush to school — it's all right there on your smartphone, tablet or, ahem, your Instagram account.

Photo courtesy of Gang of Peanuts on Instagram

Doing double duty

First day of school shirt

Here's one way to kill two birds with one stone (which was likely thrown by a new kindergartner... oops!). Pick up one of these fun, colorful shirts (Jewelia's Closet via Etsy, $28/additional grades and styles available) and not only will your little one shine in the dozens of photographs that you'll take of her on the first morning of school, but she'll also know exactly what she's wearing for her debut in first grade!

Be sure to make these shirts — or the spirit of these shirts — part of your back-to-school routine every year. You can tuck each shirt away in your kids' memory boxes for them to pull out when they have little ones heading to school themselves someday!

Chalkin' it up for school

First day of school photo

If you have more than one child starting school this year, you'll love this option for capturing them in all of their back-to-school glory! Order one of these adorable Chalkboard Back to School Signs (Morgann Hill Designs via Etsy, $23), which you can pass from kiddo to kiddo the morning that school starts — making for easy, yet sweet and personalized back-to-school photographs. There is also a cute First Day of School Chalkboard Sign ($20), for the littlest ones on their special day!

Let each kiddo do the chalk-work themselves for a couple of photographs — it serves as a cool keepsake as they grow, letting them see how their handwriting progresses from year to year! Here's the biggest trick for this back-to-school photo idea — remembering where you put it for next year's photographs!

Make it work, mom

First day of school photo

Let's take a moment and get real. Sometimes you plan, you prep, you buy the most adorable props from Etsy you can possibly imagine and you are more excited about posting these dreamy first day of school pictures on Facebook than you are about your child going back to school in the first place. Enter a stubborn child.

Don't let your kiddo's anti-mama paparazzi policy on the first day of school get you down. Instead, drop the props, do the best you can to get a few pictures of them standing by the front door or another plain background and let them be. After all, you don't want to add to their potential first day of school nerves!

Then, rush home and start editing! Jump on an easy-to-use, free online program such as PicMonkey, where you can upload your photos and add cute graphics, text, sayings and filters until it's time for the afternoon bus to arrive. We promise that your photos will still get at least 36 "likes" in your Facebook feed and that your morning will be far less stressed.

Other tips for first day of school photoshoot

  • Try taking faux first day of school photos! Instead of adding one more thing to your already insane to-do list for the first day of school, take photos a couple of days early. Trust us, nobody will be the wiser!
  • Let your kids take the lead — get them involved in picking out the props or writing their name and grade on the chalkboard. The more they think this sounds like fun, the more fun they'll actually have taking the pictures.
  • Head to their school for a pre-first day photoshoot location... for more than one reason. First, you get a cool background for your photos that is meaningful and will be cool for them to look back on from year-to-year. Second, letting them play on the playground or peek their head in the office to say hi before school actually begins is a great way to ease first day of school nerves.
  • Don't forget a family photo too!

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