Above photo created by Kate Luber

Every year when it is time to go back to school, a little bit of melancholy sets in at our house. Another year has passed. My babies are a year older. (And so am I which is almost more cause for panic!) 

But I want to celebrate the changes rather than mourning them. So I pick up my camera.

This year, as the kids head back to school, I encourage you to pick up your own camera. Let back-to-school be the event that allows you to see changes over the years. Allow it to be a reminder to capture who they are as they set out on a new year of growing. 

Use these ideas to document the start of the school year to hold onto a little bit of who they are now.

Capture them in the out-of-school routine

A large part of why the start of school can feel sad is that it is the end of those lazy summer days. There is something so magical about lazy days with no schedules or to-do lists. And yet, when there is “nothing happening,” we often forget to take our cameras out.

girl getting out of bed black and white jenny rosenbring

So before you send everyone off to school, capture them in their summer state. Document the cartoon marathons and midday naps. Take a picture of bare feet in the back yard and cereal for dinner.

When you look back, these photos will probably matter more than most. It is so easy to forget how small they were and these simple little moments are the ones you can’t recreate.

Capture the preparation for school

Who here loved packing her backpack with fresh school supplies each fall?! I love capturing my kids as they get ready for a new year at school and there are so many creative ways to do it.

My kids always get new clothes for school and it’s so cute to watch them feel fresh and fancy as they head off to school. It also makes for the perfect photo opportunity as they are feeling their best!

Let your kids play model in their back to school clothes and take them out for a fashion photoshoot to show off their style. The kids will feel great and you will be able to document their age, stage, and style in your pictures.

School supplies are another photo-worthy subject. Books, papers, pens, backpacks, notebook paper, scissors, glue sticks…anything you can imagine! They are colorful, classic, and instantly connect with the viewer who will know that all of these things mean school time.

school supplies on table by kate luber
photo by Kate Luber

I just love this shot by photographer Kate Luber. The flat lay on the dark table lets the colors of the supplies shine while those little hands at the bottom of the frame add a personal touch.

So don’t just send those supplies off to school with your kids! Let them be part of the story as you document the back-to-school memories.

The backpack photo

Of course, backpacks are school supplies like the items listed above. However, I feel as though backpacks deserve their own category when it comes to back-to-school photos. They are an opportunity for personal expression. They show a child’s growth as your little one grows into that big bag. And they are an instant signal that learning is ahead.

When my son was younger he had a ladybug backpack that he loved. As he got older, he wanted a Star Wars backpack. Now he has a huge backpack that almost does not fit on his back and it shows me how small he really still is.

boy with backpack on his back with golden sun by jenny rosenbring

Every morning last fall, this was what I saw on my way to the car. My beautiful baby boy with his huge backpack and it always made me laugh. It is a memory worth keeping.

Let your child’s backpack not only tell the story of back-to-school. Let it show who they are and how they choose to navigate the world. And of course, capture it with your camera.

Capture the school routine

Do you have daily routines that happen every day before and school? Of course you do! Even if your routine is that you are routinely running around throwing at granola bars at kids and rushing them out the door before they miss the bus!

These are memories that are definitely worth capturing.

girl eating breakfast looking at phone by jenny rosenbring

My daughter is always so sleepy in the mornings and takes her sweet time getting up to have breakfast. While this can be somewhat stressful at times, its also part of our life. I know I will miss these days when they’re gone.

Think about the things that you might overlook when choosing photo-worthy moments. Those daily happenings that can feel insignificant until they are gone. Toothbrushing, breakfast preparing, hair braiding, shoe tying.

Kids grow and evolve and these routine moments grow and evolve with them. Take the time to document the routine to remember.

Put it into words

Another great way to remember every year is to use words. Whether it be a chalkboard, a letter board, or a simple piece of paper, write down the things that will help you remember this unique school year.

Consider including the date, your child’s name and age, the teacher’s name, the name of the school, and the grade level.

mom with son holding back to school sign on front porch by jamie eilts
photo by Jamie Eilts

I love this capture by Jamie Eilts as she chose to write down the feelings of her son’s first day on her sign. Maybe your sign would say, “Break out the wine!” Either way, it is a great opportunity to capture the emotions of the back-to-school routine as well as the event itself.

The school bus

We don’t have these beautiful schoolbuses where I live in Sweden. Still, nothing is a better symbol of school than a big yellow bus. People everywhere recognize this classic vehicle!

child on tricycle watching bus zoom by in a blur by jamie eilts
photo by Jamie Eilts

Even better, that cheery yellow color is amazing for photography and really makes your images pop. So if your kid climbs in to one of these buses everyday, make sure to capture it!

Use the feelings you have for when school starts and turn them into something creative. Be inspired by a fresh start. And know that as you snap away, you are capturing precious memories of your family that will be cherished this school year and for years to come.