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Photographer Tamara Lackey’s 10 Tips to Better Back-to-School Photos

Tamara Lackey

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Tamara Lackey is a professional photographer and co-creator of Capturing Life Through (Better) Photography – as well as our guest writer on back to school photos.


Heading back to school after a long summer is not an easy task. Grabbing some great photographs of these high-buzz weeks really marks the progression of children moving through school – and throwing all your snapshots together in an easy-to-create video only heightens the near-immediate nostalgia. Here are some quick photo and video suggestions to keep in mind, no #2 pencils required:

Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Be Prepared – have a set location for a charging station or a holding place for when you want to quickly grab batteries. Keep your camera easily accessible for those perfect, unexpected moments.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Preparing for school can be just as exciting as walking into new classrooms for the first time. Picking out backpacks, going on shopping sprees and getting those post-summer haircuts are great candids to grab – don’t be shy about capturing them from the best viewpoint possible.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Consider using the light as part of your frame on those walks to or from school. Fight the urge to always shoot with your back to the sun and be creative about using sun flare to add more feel to your pictures. Simply tilt your angle around until you see a path of sunlight hitting the lens – then play with what you see.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. One of the best ways to capture the perspective of your little child entering a big school is to photograph exactly what you see as they’re all ready to go, marching off …. huge backpack and all.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Turn off your flash, which can often be harsh and unflattering, and use natural light as much as possible for more appealing imagery. Even backlit subjects can be photographed without flash if you use something bright to reflect light back to your subjects’ faces, like a bedsheet or a piece of artboard from the craft closet.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. If you do use flash, be aware of how quickly flash falls off when using the in-camera flash on most point & shoots and camera phones – stand close enough to your subject to illuminate them but not so close that you blast out their features with too much light.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. One of the best things about going back to school is seeing friends again after a long summer – commemorate those reunions by moving in close and nailing those giddy expressions.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Consider using a simple, cheap monopod for poorly-lit indoor school events. This will make an amazing difference in minimizing motion blur!
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Just because kids are going back to school, doesn’t mean they are ready to give up summer fun. Grab playful photographs of them in their natural habitat and stay low to the ground to meet them at eye level when necessary.
Tamara Lackey Photography
  1. Going back to school isn’t all fun for everyone, all the time. Whatever your kids’ response to the news that their long break is over, be sure to showcase all that emotion in all its adorable glory.
    I love to use Animoto in my professional career, as well as at home with my own family’s photographs. Like most people, I have so much going on, it’s difficult to find the time I’d like to fill up photo albums with all those digital files – but I can create a polished and emotive slideshow in an unbelievably short amount of time and quickly email the links to my extended family. Even better, I can now wrap up the DVDs I burned from my slideshow to send as gifts to my parents!

For more on photography videos by Tamara, check out our page!