The notebooks have been purchased, the pencils sharpened and the backpacks packed. It’s my favorite time of year, even though I relish summer’s slow-moving mornings and having my boys home. I love the first day of school and all the possibilities it holds. Much more than New Year’s Eve, the first day of school marks a new beginning to me, time to start afresh with new ideas and new goals.
And new photos! Are you ready for to snap a few shots before your kids board the school bus tomorrow?
I love how pairing similar photographs can tell a story and capture the passing of time. Whether it be the changes that take place over the course of one school year (above: Aidan on his first day at Rock Tots in 2005 and the last day in May), or…
…as seen on the same day several years apart (above: Aidan again, first day of preschool at Mrs. Pam’s and then the first day of 2nd grade).
Here’s are my 4 Simple Tips to capture some shots tomorrow (if you’re at the Charter school) or Thursday (at HMK):
1. Prepare. Get your camera ready the night before and leave it out near the lunch boxes. Ready means your battery is charged and you have room on your memory card.
2. Decide ahead of time the best place to take your photos. The sun is a bit too bright and direct at our house in the morning---see how Aidan is squinting in those photos above. I still take a photos in front of that same tree every year, but the harsh shadows aren’t flattering. I finally realized the shade on our deck makes for a much better location at 8 in the morning. You don’t want a busy background, like my photo below, so clear some space today.
Much better without those busy chairs, isn’t it?
3. Any props you want in the photo? Have them ready to go. A mini chalkboard with this year’s grade. A shiny red apple.
4. Write down any must-get shots that you want.
I usually like a shot of the boys with their backpacks on the way to the bus. And, back when they let me drive them to school, I loved taking a photo of them with their teacher that first day.
Above: September, 2011. Nolie, feeling shy with Ms Tiger, whom he came to adore.
Last two bonus tips: the first day shots are a wonderful keepsake, but they aren’t worth stress. As Becky Higgins explains in this post from 2010, our children need us calm and centered more than they need us pointing a camera in their face that first day.
The best way to avoid any rush or stress is to prepare, capture what you can, and then let it go.
Lastly: after you kiss your smiling child goodbye, don’t look back. Especially don’t peek back in the window of the kindergarten door to get a shot of your child happily coloring at his or her desk. Like me, you might end up shocked to see this in your viewfinders:
It took all the strength I had not to go back in and comfort him. I remember watching the clock anxiously all day---but he came home skipping, and having fallen in love with the world of school.
I wish all of us the same sense of joy and wonder as my middlest on his first day of kindergarten, and, as Nora Ephron so perfectly put it, “a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils” too.