As a parent, there are so many special moments in our children’s lives that we want to capture forever. Many of them involve school. As we get to the end of the school year–and for us this year–a graduation–we often turn to our photos as we reminisce.
This year my middle daughter is graduating from high school. As we’ve looked forward to graduation, we’ve also looked back at her years of school. One of our family traditions has been first-day-of-school photos. Now that she’s graduating, it is so fun to see all her first days of school in one place and to see how she’s grown over the years. And in case you are counting, yes, we are missing one year. I’m not sure how that happened, but that’s life–it doesn’t make the series any less fun.
Which brings me to our first lesson with creating special occasion photos–especially photo series like these first-day-of-school pictures: Just because you’ve missed one (or more) don’t give up. Things happen in life and sometimes we don’t always get the perfect picture. Sure, kindergarten and first grade were great, but as my kids got older, they were decidedly not as excited about mom’s “first day of school” picture project as I was. But being the good sport children of a photographer, they endured it pretty well, with only a minimum of heel dragging. Thankfully, they were excited enough about the first day of school to give me awesome genuine smiles (but you oughta see the outtakes).
So, don’t make it difficult on your kids to get the photos. They don’t need to be perfect. They don’t need to be posed, professional portraits. Sharp and clear make it nice. We chose to do our first day of school pictures on the front porch each year. That not only made it an easy place for us to get it done, but it also gives us a little benchmark for growth each year. And the front porch is still the front porch even when you move to a new house–and that’s part of the story too.
If you have a traditional photo, whether it’s the first day of school or a Halloween picture or Christmas picture (we always make our kids sit under the tree for a picture before they get to open presents) or something special you do on vacation, don’t spring it on your kids as a surprise. Remind them ahead of time, and then give them a little heads-up before picture time. And be positive about it–if you’re enthusiastic, they are much more likely to be enthusiastic.
Keep it simple. You are far more likely to keep up a series like this if it is easy and uncomplicated for everyone to participate. Notice the only props in my pictures are whatever my kids happened to need for their first day of school–musical instruments, backpacks, messenger bags, ID badges. If you want to do some kind of sign, make it something simple so that if your little sign disappears over the years, you won’t have to give yourself an ulcer stressing over it.
And finally, don’t let these awesome photos live only on your computer or your Faceboook page. The best way to preserve photographs for posterity is still to print them out and put them in an album or scrapbook (or to just make them into an album and send it off to be printed. I like Shutterfly. I don’t think there is anything you can’t make at Shutterfly. Whether it’s making your own scrapbook pages, creating greeting & holiday cards or just having prints made, Shutterfly is a one-stop shop. And if you click here, you can get your first 50 Shutterfly prints free.
So what kind of special photo series have you created with your family? And what have you done to preserve and share them?