5 Tips for Taking Beautiful Last Day of School Photos of Your Kids

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

Can you feel it? Summer is ALMOST here! I am so ready to embrace those dog days of summer. I have seen a few friends from around the country sharing their last day of school photos and been a little envious that they are all done for the school year! As the days wind down I thought I would give you something more fun to focus on, capturing that last day of school photo! As a Seattle family photographer, I’m sharing 5 tips to take beautiful last-day-of-school photos of your kids that you’ll be proud to show off.

Last Day of School Photo Tip #1: Plan ahead.

I’m a major planner, so this isn’t hard for me. But even if you’re not, I promise it is worth it to plan ahead a little. Following these steps will take a little planning ahead, and your reward? A beautiful photo with low stress of capturing your kids.

Major last day of school photo tip ahead.

Know that just because it is the last day of school photo, it doesn’t have to take place on the last day of school. Years from now (or even months from now) you won’t recall that this was a day or two early. Here in Washington State, I often watch the weather forecast (because the steps I use aren’t covered) to ensure we are doing the photos when it is not raining!

last day of school photo of kid with backpack

Photo Tip #2: Select your location and watch the light.

This is more of two last-day-of-school photo tips in one.

Start by selecting the right location for your last day of school photos. You could go with the classic front porch steps, find somewhere in your yard or even on the driveway. Personally, I like the feeling of the front steps, plus it means that it is simple and super easy to recreate each year for first and last day of school portraits.

After you have selected your location, pay attention to the light in the morning and evening. When is your location in the shade? That is the time of day when you will want to take your photo. If your front steps are in full sun in the morning your images will have hot spots and harsh shadows, none of which are flattering or good for showing off your child.

Girl on step during photos by Snoqualmie Valley photographer

Photo Tip #3: Set the scene before grabbing the kids.

This last day of school photo tip is actually always a top tip when photographing kids. If you’re using a letter board, get it all set ahead of time. Grab their backpack (I like to use backpacks to show how much kids have grown in a year from their first day of school to last day of school).

You also want to get your camera ready and set your settings ahead of time. Again, if you’re fiddling with the settings they will lose interest and be over it, or you might miss their best smiles and giggles while you are trying to set your camera.

end of school year portrait of boy with letterboard and backpack

Photo Tip #4: Use Continuous Shooting Mode

Set your camera to continuous shooting mode. This means that when you hold your shutter down, your camera will take several photos back to back to back, rapid fire. This last day of school photo tip is not aiming to capture a flip book of images, but when photographing kids who don’t hold still, can help you capture the moment you are after!

If you are using your smartphone, then holding down your shutter button (the button that takes the photo) will have a similar effect. On an iPhone it’s called burst mode.

last day of school photo of boy dancing

Photo Tip #5: Keep it short & let them show off their personality.

You’re more likely to have kids who are willing to cooperate if they know it will be short (like 2-3 minutes tops). I don’t ask my children for smile for me, instead, I prompt with fun questions or ask them to yell as loud as they can “LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!” They love that they actually get to yell and that it’s for the last day of school!

I also grab a shot sitting and standing (again to show how much they’ve grown). So I play some music on my phone and have a little dance party, or just wiggle at them to make them crack up. Anything to keep it short and fun.

Plus, my kids don’t hate it if Skittles are involved for afterward! 😉

Now that you have these tips you’re ready to tackle that last day of school photo! If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. You deserve to be able to take great photos of your kids, and I’m excited to help you.

For more photo tips head to the Neyssa Lee YouTube Channel. There you’ll find photo tips, tips to help you prepare for family photos, a peek at life with 6 kids, and more!