On school picture day, you want your child to look his or her best. After all, these are professional portraits that will last a lifetime and that you’ll want to display in your home and share with family.
Here are 7 tips to help you prepare your child to take the best preschool or daycare photos possible. Whether it’s the first school picture day, holiday card photographs, or a family portrait session, these tips will help make a great shoot.
Tip #1: Choose the right outfit for picture day
The night before photo day select 3 to 5 outfits for your child to choose from. Find clothing that he or she loves and that you know looks good on them.
Picture day isn’t the best time to break out that new, itchy wool sweater from Grandma. Instead, make them feel comfortable. When your child looks good and feels good, professional photographers will capture it.
Bold, vibrant colors work just as well neutrals to show off your child’s personality. Both kids and cameras love color. Use your child’s favorite color combinations for fun, memorable photos.
It’s better to avoid clothing with slogans, oversized logos, and loud patterns that can distract from your child’s smiling face. Clothing should complement and not compete.
Tip #2: Focus on the hair
If your child is due for a haircut, have it done at least 2 weeks prior to the photo shoot. If your child wants a new hairstyle, look through a few magazines together and choose a cut that he or she loves and is easy for you to maintain.
Find a style that you both love, but save the dramatic haircut for after picture day.
When school picture day arrives, comb and style your child’s hair prior to morning send-off. If you’re concerned that your child can’t maintain the style until the photo session begins, don’t worry. Professional photographers will take the time to style and groom each child.
Tip #3: Get a good night’s sleep
A soothing bath the night before portrait day will relax your child and prepare him or her for a good night’s sleep. If bathtime isn’t a happy time for your child, try a lullaby or reading a book before bed.
Also, consider playing calming music or leaving on a fan to generate white noise to drown out other sounds. It may help your child to sleep through the night.
If your child imagines monsters in the room when the lights are out, Parenting.com in their article, “How to Get Your Child to Sleep (Really!)” recommends the following:
“Indulge (a little) at tuck-in. Get her what she needs—the first few requests are probably legit. It’s okay to acknowledge her fears, too; it’ll soothe, rather than encourage, if you can spray “monster poison” (water) around or put in a nightlight.”
A child who’s had a good night of uninterrupted sleep is likely to look fresh and alert on picture day.
Tip #4: Don’t forget to brush
After breakfast, have your child brush his or her teeth. A couple of minutes is all it takes to properly clean teeth. Why not make it fun and sing a short song or watch a short video?
2min2x.org is a site that encourages children to brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day. To help with that effort, their Watch & Brush page hosts short 2 minute videos that children can watch while brushing their teeth.
If your child needs a little motivation, play a short video that distracts him or her from the time spent brushing.
Tip #5: Practice making expressions
In the age of camera phones and selfies, you’ve probably taken hundreds—maybe thousands—of photos of your child.
If that’s the case, scroll through your collection to find a few that you really like. Show the images to your child and explain what it is that you like so much about it.
Your child may already be used to being in front of the camera. There’s no need to make too big of a deal out of picture day. As long as your child has fun and is comfortable, your professional portraits will look natural rather than staged.
Tip #6: Bring a favorite toy or blanket
Does your child own a favorite toy or have a special attachment to a blanket? If so, bring it along to the photo shoot. These souvenirs of childhood add a personal touch to your photos.
Consider items that your child may one day remember years after the photo shoot. It may be a hand-knitted blanket gifted to your child by an elderly family member. Or maybe it’s the teddy bear that you grew up with and that you saved especially for your own child to love.
These items aren’t merely props used to set a stage. They’re items that your child will always cherish and will one day appreciate seeing in a photo.
Tip #7: Remember that nobody’s perfect
Picture day at preschool or daycare is a rare and precious opportunity to capture your child in one brief moment. Next year, you’ll have the opportunity to capture them all over again in that moment.
Don’t worry about perfection. If your child has lost baby teeth, for instance, remember it’s a rite of passage that every child experiences. You’ll enjoy looking at the imperfections and quirky expressions for years to come.
As these moments happen, we’ll capture them, so you can remember them.