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Spicing Up 1st Day of School Photos

Spicing Up 1st Day of School Photos

Most of us make our kids pose by the front door – backpacks slung over the shoulder – for that First Day Of School photo at the start of every year. I have one child who is about to start THE 11th grade and I know I’ve done it every August since he was five. I planned on doing the same thing with my daughter as she starts Kindergarten this year, but after going through the photos I have of her brother I came to a shocking realization. Those First Day Of School photos are neither interesting nor informative. It’s actually a little hard to tell what picture goes with what grade, unless I pull them all together and stack them by Size Of Child In Photo.

I decided, since I get a clean slate this year, I’d try to spice up the traditional photos with my daughter. Maybe make it so that the photos tell a little more than just what they wore, and maybe even create a fun timeline at the end of her educational career. Unlike the photos of her brother which basically just say: I Am Taller Now Than Last Year.

Photo Option #1

Do a First Day Of School/Last Day Of School photo set with the SAME OUTFIT. This way, you can really see the transformations your child undergoes throughout the school year. Of course, if your children grow as fast as mine do, the clothes may not fit anymore. Which is just as telling, in my opinion.


Photo Option #2

Notate your child’s Favorite Things on the photo so that you catalog their appearance AND their personality at the same time every year. These type of tidbits are cute for parents to look back on year after year. They are simultaneously embarrassing for kids when they look at them years down the road so…Win/Win!

Listing Faves

Photo Option #3

Add signage to your photos so that you’ll have a better chance of remembering the age of your child in the photo. It’s also a handy way for you and your child to recall past teacher’s names which is very important if you are forgetful like I am.


Photo Option #4

If you have multiple children, take their photos together every year so you can keep track of their comparative growth. This would have been especially telling in my family as my younger brother became taller than me the year he was a Freshman and I was a Senior.

See Also
Ready, Set, Kindergarten!

Photo Option #5

I think the best tip I can give – however – is for you parents of teenagers. If you are still trying to document the First Day Of School for your teen, may I suggest staging it the evening before? You know, FAKING that first day of school? Otherwise, this may be the best documentation you have of that memorable day.



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This article has been updated July 2023 with current info.


View Comments (50)
  • I love the first day/last day idea. My daughter tries to wear the same thing both days already. Now just to remember to take the picture. And I have got to try listing their favorite things on their picture. I really love these ideas.

  • I LOVE IT! Then again I don’t have kids to take photos of yet lol. I just suggested it to my blogging friend as adapting the idea for highlights of the past month while wearing my favourite outfit of that month (for example so far August is my black shorts and flip flops! Then again July was flip flops and trousers lol)

  • What great ideas! Kim, you are awesome (and beautiful!)! I especially love the one with the favorites on it. I can’t remember anything so that’s an easy way to always have those memories right there. Can you teach me how to put the writing on the pics now, please?

    • Monica – I use Photoshop now, but used to us Picnik. I’m not sure how it is now, but it used to be free AND easy! Win/Win! I found this tutorial that might help: (I’m not sure if this comment section allows me to post links, if it does not, go to YouTube and search ‘adding text to photos in picnik tutorial’ – I found a bunch.)



    But seriously, these are great ideas. I’m printing this so I remember these ideas when L starts school (which will be a while, seeing as she’s only 5 months old…

    • Erin – Thanks for the kind (and totally un-prompted!) words ;)! And let me tell you, that’s why I LOVE that website Pinterest because it allows me to catalog ideas for the distant future!

  • Kim –

    What a bunch of great suggestions. Thanks for sharing. It made me think of another fun idea would be to list major events in the school year or summer in the first day / last day photo. Things like, drove to california or went with sister one day to high school. Thanks again for sharing!


    • Chris – that’s a GREAT idea! You must be part of a really smart family to have such genius ideas. 😉

  • Love it! I know my parents took our picture under the same tree each year–it was interesting to go back and look at how small it was when we were small. But I don’t remember them trying to do it when I was in high school–probably because my bus came at 6:30? I love the picture of your oldest, great idea to do it the night before.

    • I think my son let me take a picture of his first day of high school, but the scowl in the photo is deadly 😉 He’s pretty tolerant the night before though. I learned my lesson.


    ‘cuz ya know? I do what the internet tells me to do!

    But actually, this is a very cool idea and I’m totally stoked about doing it with my boys this year!

  • thank you so much kim!!! both my kids started yesterday (with my baby in kindergarten) & i was trying to come up with a way to spice up their pictures:)

    i noticed that i always took my kids school pics by our trash can & now it is what we do. i can’t wait to spruce up my insanity:)


  • Great idea! This definitely will add more to the documentation. Yay for my reading this in time for the start of kindergarten in a few weeks.
    So right (and so funny) with that last pic.

  • Great ideas. One year my then teenage son had to remind me to take the first day of school photo – quite a change from the scowl years. Maybe this year I’ll take a heading back to college photo to add to the collection.

  • Great ideas! I love the idea of putting their favorites on the photo. I also love the idea of taking a pic on the first and last day. I never thought of that.


    And I say that totally unprompted by anyone, including you! ;o)

    These ARE really great ideas. They’ll be getting “pinned” along with other BTS ideas I’ve read about. This one is the best, though.

  • Ha ha—I think I like that last photo best of all!

    I think my favorite idea is the picture with all the “favorites,” but the one I’m most likely to ACTUALLY DO (and also be grateful to myself for doing, later) is the one where they hold up a sign with their grade and teacher’s name.

  • i love this idea! And the 11th grade shot just kills me–an accurate portrait of an early morning teenager!

  • Kim!!
    It is so awesome you were featured today. Love the ideas…my favorite is listing the favorites on the pic. I also love the background…a simple brick wall. But I’m kind of nostalgic like that. I like to look at things a remember a house I grew up in. But the wall provides a simple uncluttered way of doing that. Besides our front door…super boring! I also love first day/ last pic. I’m not to confident I’d be able to find the same outfit, but great idea none the less. All fantastic ideas I’m committing to the memory bank for when we have little Moore’s running around!!! Thanks for sharing your creativity!!

  • genius! i love these ideas! you’re the smartest, funniest, prettiest person w/ the best hair – EVER!! ‘

    your models are awesome too!! 😉

  • Genius! I especially love the one with the favorite things! I hope I’m not too lazy to try it out in a couple weeks!

  • You are so clever and pretty and yes indeed you do have lovely hair 🙂 What a great way to add personality to what can otherwise become a rote photo.

  • Dear Kim –

    Every good idea I’ve had in the past year I’ve stolen from you, and this is yet another one! Thank you for making me look so good!

  • I love these ideas! Another close-to-first-day of school picture I like to do is my kids surrounded by all their shiny new school supplies. My girls LOVE their school supplies! It’s fun to look back at past years and how they’ve gone from Strawberry Shortcake or cutesy little animal folders, crayons, rest towel, and washable markers etc… and changed through the years to plain colored notebooks, scientific calculators, locker shelves, mechanical pencils, etc. Call me crazy but I find that progression just as interesting as how tall they’ve become!

  • Oh fun! I love it, and I think it would be fun to list the same interest categories on the last day of school picture too, to see what changed over the year.

  • I love these ideas! Especially because we haven’t gotten to our first day of school yet (next year!) so now I have ideas ready to go. Although yes, the last picture is my favorite. Although 11th grade – how did THAT happen?!

  • Love, Love, Love – and since Tyler starts Kindergarten at Farley on Monday, I plan to copy every single idea – including the last picture (though it will probably be my head fast down cause, yeah, not so much into the mornings!). Great job! 😀


    With the formalities out of the way, this is really ingenious!!I am borrowing it for the Great Nephew’s school picture and I am sure this will be a must do from here on out. Maybe even with other aspects of photoing; like engagements,weddings, dating, who knows, it’s TIMELESS!!! You are priceless with your ideas.

  • Hi~ I am a first grade teacher and i would like to use your idea of the pic with the favorite things as an end-of-year gift for parents. What program do I use? I have no idea how to get the text onto the picture. Thanks!

  • My kids photos were always in front of the van(K-also going up the bus steps for the first time………when they drove-they are sitting in the drivers seat….trust me-they will always pose if they are able to drive! I also have a pic of all 4 of mine in front of the school sign when the oldest began K…..and each one of them at the end of 6th grade.
    Also, my youngest had a very special kindergarten class/teacher. We took a pic of their entire class at the end of Kind. in front of the school sign-repeated the process in 6th grade-had to pull the kids from other classes for a minute though. Then, in 11th grade their kind. teacher was dying of cancer so we were able to facebook the remaining students who were local(11 out of 18) and recreate the pic in front of the sign. We did a nice pic and a goofy pic… We could barely see the tops of the school letters since they were so tall….Put all 4 photos in a page print….titled The class of 2010 says….we love you Mrs. Hohman.

  • FYI…NikkiZ’s picture just showed up on my facebook feed posted by Upward Sports. The first and last day of school picture. I said wait a minute! I know that child! Thought I would let you know just in case you weren’t aware they were using your child’s picture.

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