Starting school. It’s a big rite of passage. That’s why everyone takes “that” photo. It’s such a big moment. It’s up there with first smile, first poo explosion without any baby wipes, first words, first topple off the bed, moving out, getting married (SOB)…In other words, it’s one of the moments in your family’s life that’s definitely worth documenting (not the poo explosion obvs).
Maybe your child is excited and tells everyone she meets that she’s starting school. Maybe he’s a bundle of nerves and can’t really talk about it. However they’re feeling, we parents are the memory makers in our families. It can be a tough moment to photograph, so I’ve got some hints and tips to get you going, along with lots of examples.
This week I’m right there with you, as I send my eldest into year one and my youngest starts reception. I knew a small age gap would bring plenty of challenges, but I can’t pretend to have thought this far ahead. (To be honest I’m still struggling with how to navigate television choices when one wants Horrid Henry and the other My little Ponies! Long live the gender stereotypes eh, thanks Netflix!)
But you know how they’re just so ready to go to school? And at first you can’t believe how independent they’ve become, because, in your mind’s eye they’re still a constantly feeding, squawking creature, screaming “SNACKS” at you every 5 seconds. And by the time summer starts you think “hmm, yes, school seems a good idea.” By the end of the summer you’re probably more ready than they are… (that is as long as you’ve not been ironing the school shirts… click here for a link to a great Mumsnet thread.) My own little darling has become wonderfully fiesty, fighty yet so needy and regressive, but this is all normal right?!! GULP!
As my son hands over the cosy confines of reception to my daughter and tells her everything he knows (and then some), I wanted to talk to you briefly about what I’ve learnt in the last year. I’m also going to give you some helpful tips and tricks for getting some sweet photos of your child in their brand new, slightly-too-big uniform that you can treasure for years to come. Because you know, that uniform is never going to look so clean ever again, and you’re essentially going to start your mornings chasing them around shouting “WHERE IS YOUR OTHER SHOE” for the next 13 years.
This time of year serves as a poignant reminder to us parents – kids grow up, and it happens too fast. They’ll always be your babies, but soon they’ll barely allow you to plant a kiss on their cheek before they’re off, running into the playground with all their friends. It’s why I chose a career as a family photographer – because I know just how fast it all changes.
Last year I took a photograph of my son to help me remember how small he is, and how big the world can be. It’s a photo of him in his new school uniform, standing by the gates, with his dad’s arm draped affectionately over of his shoulder. It’s such a personal, emotive moment, and I’m so proud of it. The image won me a gold award with the SWPP, but it also encapsulates everything I feel about this moment in our lives as a family.
This year he gets to be the cool, helpful big brother. She’s such a lucky little girl having him on her side as she starts, but it’s still an emotional time for me seeing how quickly she’s grown. I know that he’ll look out for her in the playground, and she’ll probably tell her teachers all about how brilliant he is. I still miss having them at home with me sometimes during the week, but I know that once they’re both settled in their new classrooms and we’re in a routine, all will be well, and I’ll be able to use my inside voice again.
And I’ll be drinking a hot cup of tea and enjoying a bit of peace and quiet. And did I mention just how QUIET it would be, ah and breath!
So how can you document this rite of passage? Photos you take at this time can help show them how little they once were, capture this special moment, and will serve as excellent wedding day fodder in decades to come. Here are my tips for you to capture the moment in your home on the first day of term.
- Start small. The little things as they get dressed, like putting on socks and struggling to fasten buttons help to tell a story of what’s happening. They probably won’t be able to do this on their own, so if you have any older children lurking in your house be sure to make them help the little one. Trust me, it looks great.
- If you have more than one child, and you want to capture moments together, you will have to work quite quickly. Wrestling on the ground is not nearly as cute and putting their socks on together.
- Find a part of your home that you can photograph from a slight distance, such as a doorway. Your child will look small against a large structure, and it’ll get you right in the feels.
- Children walking to school and holding hands with an adult is very cute, and can give a sense of embarking on a new adventure. If there are two parents dropping a child off, this is one I recommend.
- Any hugs and reassuring moments in the family should absolutely be captured!
If you know the first morning of school is going to be a little hectic, then do a practice run and capture all these moments with time to spare.
I’d love to see your starting school pictures. Share them in the comments below!
Lastly, well done Mama, you got this, you’ve made it through, now whatever happens don’t forget the sugar pick up for those hungry little squawkers at school pick up!
Love Kika x