Back to school is a time of upheaval. There are new schedules to contend with, along with new teachers, new faces and new responsibilities. One constant that remains is picture day. Most people remember the awkwardness and stress that comes with this particular day, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your children’s photos.
These tips work best for parents with very young kids, but also apply to older ones.
1. Be aware
Schools and daycares will usually provide access to the schedule. Take note of picture day and plan accordingly. Laying out the clothes a day before and taking extra time for grooming can make a world of difference.
Whether you’re getting the photo taken or you’re there for your child, the best thing you can do is keep calm. When a person is stressed, it’s difficult to take a great photo of them. Some kids respond well to practicing their picture smile, but it can also lead to a pained, forced expression. Avoid statements like:
“Smile big!” “Smile for grandma/daddy/mommy!” “No, that’s not a real smile, do your real smile.” “CHEESE!”
With the lights, the camera and everyone being around, it can be overwhelming. Be fun, be positive. Don’t be afraid to get silly. Break the tension with a silly joke, and bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal to ease the tension.
Be mindful of your child’s personality. Whether it’s shy kids or introverted adults, I often tell people “Don’t be someone you’re not.” If your child is introverted, don’t try to force a big, phony smile. Let them smile or smirk or pout, if that captures who they really are.
3. Cameras Away
It’s like going to the movies: don’t pull out your phone when the photographer is taking the pictures. Seems crazy, but it happens more often than you might expect. It’s distracting not only for the photographer, but your child, who will not be sure where to look. Also, there are other kids waiting to get their photos done, and disruptions can cause everything to fall behind schedule.
Some days, none of the above will work. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the re-shoot. Schools will often organize one for the kids who could not make it to the scheduled picture day. If you’re not entirely happy with your photos, try getting them done a second time.
The goal is to get a nice photo and have a fun time doing it. Relax, smile.