1st Day Photo Ideas You Should Totally Do (Even If the Kids Are Home)

Whether your kid is heading back to the classroom or starting the year at home, it’s important to snag a memorable back to school picture of both a proud preschooler and a seasoned student. From cool props and backdrops to DIY picture frames and chalkboards, scroll down to discover 25 first day of school photos tips and tricks that are as easy as A, B, C.

Cool School Bus

Take the wheel to get fabulous first-day photos with a quick pic before they get on the school bus. Whether they stand on the street with the open bus door or start to climb the stairs to look back and wave, we're sure you little student will roll with it!

photo: Amazon

Chalk it Up

With chalkboard paint and a little creativity, you can make a unique family photo prop. Simply order the chalkboard, like this one from you can get on Amazon, and throw in chalkboard markers to complete the project. It’ll be fun to look back over the years to see how your little one has changed. 

Epic Start

Even the bravest among us can get a little jittery on the first day. Attitude is everything, so put your tyke at ease before the big day with a composition that matches the magnitude. For other larger-than-life inspiration, think of what you can do with a sunrise, a costume, a hiking trail or an athletic field.

Under the Rainbow

Strike gold with this genius DIY first-day photos idea that will light your little cuties smile up like a rainbow. Mama Maggie over at Smashed Peas and Carrots gives you the how-to, here. Also, you can replace the balloon sign with something around the house like a paper with the year and grade or chalk it up on a small blackboard.

Talking Frame

Put the back to school crew in the right frame of mind with this easy DIY talking picture frame. We love Apple's and ABCs how-to here, with just an old picture frame, paint and stick-on poster letters (you can find at the dollar store). Announce that first day and get a big smile!

It's a Match

Let sibling personalities shine through with matching outfits. Younger siblings who are still at home can feel part of the back to school festivities by wearing matching outfits like the big kids. If you like to sew, find a fabric that fits everyone and follow Melissa Esplin's matching tees idea here

Back to School Breakfast Party

As easy as ABC! Calm those first day jitters and capture the first day of school photo with a breakfast party on the big day. Create simple props from things around the house like the school-themed decor brainstormed over at Dukes and Duchesses. We love the use of primary colors, pencils and apples.

Power Up for School

If your little superhero is nervous for the first day of school or you just want to spice up your back to school pics, let him wear his favorite costume. Diary of an addict shows us her back to school superhero pics. It will give him the confidence to wear something they love. Plus, it's a great way to remember who their hero was that year. 

Strut Your Stuff

Let your little one express their own personal style in their back-to-school photo. If that means a mismatched outfit or a pair of sassy shades, all the better! We love this free-spirited shot by JoopaShoots Photography that totally captures this kiddo’s personality.

First Day & Last Day

From start to finish! Take a sweet pic of your little learner on the first day of school and the last day of school. Make it easy-peasy with these matching downloadable chalkboard signs ($5) available, here. What's more, load up the images side-by-side using a simple photo program like PicLab and PicMonkey. Frame it, and you'll have the perfect picture.

Go Green

Short on time? Go green. Find a bush or shrub that makes a background frame around your little scholar for a perfectly-framed shot. Bonus points if you can find a spot that has flowers to add a pop of color. Remember to take several shots and have them stand big and strong with a smile on their face.

Pop of Color

Want to make a quick and easy backdrop? Click through to Lovely Indeed's colorful backdrop that adds a festive hue with streamers. You can change the color to their school colors or match their first day of school outfits to change it up. Find the tutorial here.

Crazy Crayons

How cute is this photo frame prop from Surviving a Teacher’s Salary? In addition to being a fun craft to finish off your summer with, it’s super easy—click here to get step-by-step instructions on how to make your own.

Hit the Books

This simple idea from Ruffles and Stuff is one that could really last through the years, especially if you’ve got a budding bookworm on your hands. Each year, have them pose with their current favorite book and watch as their tastes change.

Scholarly Props

Have fun with props—got an old typewriter or a stack of textbooks lying around? They’ll be the perfect backdrop for your mini photoshoot. Add in a pair of faux glasses, and you’re in business.

photo: Shelley Massey

Sky’s the Limit

Take some of that sidewalk chalk the kids have been using all summer and switch things up with a new point of view. It will remind your stellar student that the sky is the limit.

Two Birds, One Sign!

Anyone else forgetting to keep up with that growth chart hanging behind the bedroom door? Use one as a backdrop, and you’ll know exactly how much they’ve grown by the end of the school year. For inspiration, check out how to double-down on the adorable over at Jonesing2Create.

photo: Jennifer Massoni Pardini

First Friends

Along with reading and writing, our kids are learning how to make best friends. Get the school year off on the right foot with a group photo for the ages (Sharing the spotlight takes the pressure off, too.).

Cool Collage

Putting the first and last days of each school year side-by-side is always fun, and apps like Instagram’s Layout make it easier than ever to take posterity to the next level. Try collaging each first-day snap and eventually capture every school year in one photo! (If you want to add text or designs, we heart photo editing apps like PicLab and PicMonkey.)

One Size Fits All

Class of 2032 may not roll off the tongue today, but it will be here before you know it. This is a fun way to watch them grow while the same t-shirt somehow gets smaller and smaller. And check out the genius way Where The Smiles Have Been utilized the real estate on the back to track handprints every year.

Gear Show

For school kids, September is synonymous with a fresh start. If this is the year for a new backpack, lunchbag or dynamite duds, give them a chance to showcase the swag in their first-day photo.

Parents in the Picture

While you watch in awe as the kids mature, you also change from parents of preschoolers to—somehow—soon-to-be grads. As one future mom reminds us, it’s important to document your own evolution along the way. Later, the kids will thank you.

photo: iStock

After-School Special

Hooray! They made it through the first day! Be sure to commemorate that moment, too, along with all its relief and excitement. That feeling of hearing the school bell ring and knowing a fun afternoon awaits captures a special essence of childhood, doesn't it?

Video Star

Press record and ask the questions you’d usually save for the sign—grade level, favorite things and the most timeless of inquiries: what they want to be when they grow up. With a live interview, you’ll capture even more—the voice, the gestures, the giddy charm—about this age and time. After all, by next year they’ll have gone and grown up all over again.

Mommy and Me

First-timer? Ease the transition from mommy-to-school with matching outfits (like Mamma Carly's pics!) to show you're on the same team. Pick a nice background and grab some scholarly props to make this an Insta-worthy back to school shot.


—Nikki Walsh with Jennifer Massoni Pardini


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Feature photo: iStock