If there’s any day that captures the spirit of back to school for your kids, it’s picture day. Sure, you have the first day of school picture taken at home before your child even ventures out to meet their class, but that’s different. That’s more for your personal use. After all, they haven’t yet had a chance to really get into the spirit of the school year yet. In contrast, the official back to school photos taken at school are typically taken after your child gets to meet everyone and dig their feet into the school year. It captures a completely different child than the one you sent out the door on the first day of school.
Plus, the whole school will be seeing your child’s official photo in the yearbook, so you definitely want your child to look nice and feel proud of their appearance. But picture day can be stressful. Kids are quite active throughout the day, and since you won’t be there to wipe off their face or straighten their hair, you’ll want to make sure you’re equipped with all the right precautions so your child looks their best on picture day. Here are some tips from the experts.
Preferably, you’ll be the one choosing their outfit, but if your child is a bit of a fashionista, they might have their own opinion of what looks cool. Stand your ground here. You want your child to be highlighted in the photo, not the outfit. It will primarily be their shirt, so avoid large logos and slogans. If more than your child’s torso will be in the photo, be mindful of the pants, dress or skirt they may be wearing as well. If your child normally wears school uniforms, double-check whether they will be required to wear them on picture day or if they have the option to choose their own outfit. Sometimes it’s fun for them to dress up and show a little bit of individuality but having a school photo with their actual uniform is nice, too.
Knowing at what time your child’s class will be getting their pictures taken could make a huge difference in how they turn out. After all, if your child is getting their picture taken first thing in the morning, they can’t mess up their hair or clothes too much within that short period of time between home and school. In contrast, if your child is having their picture taken right after lunch and recess, chances are they’ll have some food stains on their shirt and their hair will look like it’s been through a tornado and back. See if your child’s school will let you stop by right before pictures with a spare boys’ or girls’ polo shirt shirt and a comb. If that’s not possible, send them to school with your child as a backup. If the hair isn’t perfect, don’t worry. That’s probably how it looks during a typical school day anyway!
If your child has short hair, you’ll want to be conscious of when to schedule their haircut. For example, if they’re going to be due for a haircut right before picture day, you may want to move the date up so it doesn’t look too long in the pictures. In contrast, if you don’t like the just-trimmed look, schedule the haircut one to two weeks before picture day so it has a chance to grow out a bit and look more natural. If you have a child who likes their hair braided or likes to experiment with different looks, do some practice runs before picture day to ensure that the styling goes smoothly. There’s nothing more stressful on picture day than trying to get their hair just right while the clock is ticking and the bell is about to ring.
These days, photography companies send home picture day brochures that give parents lots to think about. There isn’t just the dilemma of how many wallet-sized photos to choose or how many 5 x 7s to pick — there’s also the question of what background to choose. There will likely be different colors and themes to choose from, and you don’t want your child’s outfit to clash against the backdrop. So if you choose an autumn backdrop with lots of orange and fall leaves, something like a bubblegum pink girl's sweater with glitter all over it, it might not particularly match, no matter how badly she wants to look like a Disney character.
Don’t let picture day cause you any unnecessary stress. With these tips, you’ll be ready to master picture day with a big smile both your child’s face and on yours.