Not all parents are comfortable paying for kid’s school photos, and if you look at it, it makes sense. School photographers generally have very little photography experience and are limited to “in the box” photography, which means you essentially get the same shot every single year. It’s no wonder that many parents are looking for options to a) save money and b) get more creative photos.
Step One: Setup the Scene
When you choose to take your own school portraits at home, you can have complete artistic control over the image – starting with the background. You can use a sheet, blanket, or piece of fabric, or a foam board. Solid, light colors work best for indoor photo shoots, outdoors you can look for walls, woodpiles, grass, or fences for backgrounds. However, feel free to get creative and try a few different approaches.
Step Two: Look at Lighting
Lighting is one of the reasons why amateur photographers find it frustrating to try to take school photos of their kids at home. First, turn off the overhead lights and position your child near a window, arranged the following way:
In the graphic, your large window is on the left and your subject is on the right (you can place them on a stool or table if their too low in relation to the light coming from the window). Your background is behind the subject (or if you have a neutral-colored wall you’re set.
Step Three: Arrange Wardrobe
Since you’re at home anyways, you can test out a few looks to see what works for your child. You can let older kids pick out their own outfits (with a few limitations), and strike a balance with younger kids by choosing one outfit and letting them choose one of their own. If they’re patient you can try a few wardrobe changes.
Step Four: Get Your Camera Ready
It’s easiest to set up your camera on a tripod, so if you need to make adjustments you don’t have to keep putting the camera down and setting it up again. Use the Av (Aperture Priority) setting on a fairly wide aperture, such as f/2.0 to f/5.6 – this will help to give sharp focus on the face while blurring out the background.
You might want to take shots from a variety of distances (or change your lens); close-up (head/shoulders), mid-range (upper body), and full body. Let your kid try out a few poses: hand under chin, arms crossed, hands on hips, etc. – as long as they feel comfortable doing so. You might find, with introverted kids, that by doing school photos at home you get more relaxed body language and more sincere smiles.
Step Five: Try Something New
Here’s where you can really get creative – enough of the standard five poses that you see year after year. Think outside the box! Let them have some props too; hats, scarves, apples, books, glasses, anything to make your photo stand out from the crowd. Let your children bring a few things too and they can have input into their own school photos.