1 of 5
Creative back to school photo 5
2 of 5
Creative back to school photo 4
3 of 5
Creative back to school photo 3
4 of 5
Creative back to school photo 2
5 of 5
Creative back to school photo 1
Most Collier schools are back in session on Monday, August 17, 2015 and parents will be taking a photo or two of their children on that special first day.
This year why not make an effort to be a little more creative? Cover photographer Peggy Farren of Avant Garde Photography and I teamed up to brainstorm a few ideas that will take your shots from boring to creative and memorable. Our cover models for the month were our subjects and we used a variety of simple props that take your back to school photos from boring to fun!
Peggy’s Technical Tips
Think about lighting and where you will take the pictures.
- Overhead light (such as the sun) is not pretty. Your child will have dark eye sockets if you take pictures with the sun above. Use your flash to “fill” in the shadows. A small pop-up flash will not be very strong, but it should improve the picture.
- Better yet, look for “open shade”. Put your child in the shade, but just on the edge so that light filters in on his face. If the child is too deep in the shade, it will just be dark.
- If you are taking pictures inside, you may get a color cast from the tungsten or fluorescent lights. You can change your camera’s white balance to overcome this problem. Look for “white balance” in your menu. You’ll be able to change your white balance to the lighting situation.
- You will probably need your flash if you are taking pictures inside.
- Take wide, medium and close up photographs to tell the entire story. You’ll want to see the environment, but also capture close ups of your child’s face as they anticipate their new school year.
- Be sure your background doesn’t have too many distractions. Try not to have a horizon or anything coming through the child’s head or neck.
- Keep in mind that our eyes are attracted to the brightest part of the picture. If your child is standing next to something bright, the emphasis may not be on him. Move him or yourself for a better composition.
- One common mistake is to leave too much room around your subject. Zoom in so there is not too much environment around your child.
- Anytime you photograph children, keep in mind it should be fun and light hearted. Don’t add to the stress your child is already feeling by holding a grueling photo session.
- For people and animals, the eyes should be on a rule of thirds gridline. It’s okay to cut off the top of someone’s head as long as their eyes aren’t too high up in the picture. Also with the rule of thirds, if you can place your subject on a “power point” your photograph will have the most visual impact.
- One more composition guideline; if your child is facing one way or the other, be sure there is room in front of the way they are facing for the most pleasing image.
Andrea’s Creative Tips
- Try a different angle. Instead of photographing your child from the front, take a picture of them from behind as they are walking away from your front door or down the sidewalk. If you walk them into school, take the last shot as they enter the front door.
- Use props. You can make an inexpensive chalkboard sign like ours with a cheap blackboard from the crafts store and a few wooden rules. Use a glue gun to attach the rulers and pencil sand you have a cute prop you can use every year. Inexpensive chalk pens make artistic writing easier. Apples, stacks of books, and signs all add interest to the photo. In our juggling photo, we had the child hold the two apples and then Photoshopped the third into the picture.
- The t-shirts in our cover shot were made using Jolee’s Image Transfers, purchased at Joann’s. You can log onto the company website to set up your image and then simply run it through your inkjet printer.
- Get candid! Take a few shots of that first day of school breakfast or a shot of your child combing his hair or packing her backpack.
- Shoot the details. How about a shot of the clothing laid out the night before, the lunch bags lined up on the counter or a stack of new school supplies on the counter ready to be packed?
- Start a tradition. Pick one idea–perhaps a photo of your child holding a sign with the date, grade, and teacher’s name–and repeat it every year. What a great gift a book of all of those photos will be when your child is starting college!
Win a Jill E Camera Bag with your creative back to school photo. Click here for more information.
Peggy Farren is the owner of Avant Garde Photography and Understand Photograhy. She can be reached at 239-283-7001.
Andrea Breznay is the Publisher of Neapolitan Family Magazine and can be reached at 239-514-0338. Peggy and Andrea have been collaborating on magazine covers for more than 13 years.