Top tips on how to take the best school photos of your children.

London School Photographer Tessa Clements reveals her pro tips.

It’s back to school week! The lunch boxes are packed, the uniform is ironed and pencils sharpened. And now all that remains is the obligatory first day ‘back to school photo’ to share with family and friends. But as every parent knows this isn’t always as easy as it looks. So here are my top tips to help you get those cute and fun ‘Back to School’ pictures.

1. Choose your backdrop

When it comes to choosing the right background, less is more. If you’re indoors, find a space in your house that is flooded with natural light and is either quite plain or something that nods to the school theme such as a large bookshelf.  The key here is to position your child in natural light and as far away from the background as possible to make sure that the background is out of focus.

If the weather is good I prefer to position children outside in the greenery of the garden or by a brick wall where there is little visual distraction. Just make sure you don’t face them into the sun so you can avoid squinty eyes!

school photo by london photographer in park

2. Pick the right moment

Many children hate the last minute dash to school as much as we do. If you want to get a happy and relaxed photo of them in their uniform, don’t leave it to the last minute as you walk out of the door. This is when tensions are already high and a request to ‘smile’ for the camera could push you all over the edge before the bell rings!

I find children need at least 10-15 minutes to warm up to photos. So choosing the right moment is key. If you want to do it before school get them ready and outside 20 minutes early and make sure you’ve prepped them the night before so it’s not a surprise. If before school is too frantic, why not just capture them in the moment. Even the little details of putting their shoes on and brushing their hair in the mirror still capture the cute ‘school’ moments that you can look back on.

3. Shoot from above

Stand up tall in front of them, and ask them to look up. You can catch some fantastic sparkle in their eyes! Lots more examples to inspire you here:

school photo by london photographer in park

4. Give them ideas of what to do

No-one knows what to do with their hands when being photographed – and the same goes for children. So giving them some ideas on how to stand and what to do with their hands is key. Perhaps they could hold their school bag, or put their hands in their pockets or get them to put their arm round their brothers waist. Or ask them to pretend they’re in class and asking the teacher a question!

5. Get them moving

The key to photographing children is to let them feel free. Movement is a great way to do this. Ask them to run on the spot. Or do a star jump. Or stretch their arms up to the sky. They will soon be relaxed and if you keep snapping long enough, the magic will come. You’ll be capturing those natural smiles instead of the false one you get when they say “cheese”.

sisters piggy back school photo in the park

siblings playing in school uniform in park, taken by London school photographer

6. Try a close-up

As well as the long portrait uniform shot, try to also get a close up of their gorgeous face. This is the face that you kiss every day at the school gates. The face that you gaze at while they sleep.  Children’s features change so quickly that it’s worth capturing all the little close up details while you can,  If you’re using an iPhones you can try ‘portrait’ mode for this shot. Just be careful to get their whole face in focus. As this mode is still very basic on a phone and can sometimes make some parts of the face out of focus – which can look a little odd.


close up of school girl on bench taken by London photographer

Need professional help?

I hope these tips have helped you feel that you can get some gorgeous ‘back to school’ photos of your children this school year. As we all know, children will always respond better to others, so if you’d like some professional school photos of your child, please get in touch. I am a London school photographer, based in Beckenham. Every year I run some fun and relaxed outdoor school photo sessions in Beckenham. Please email me at to join my waiting list. More info can be found here:

behind the scenes london school photographer

07977 417336


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