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Ten top photo tips

publication date: Aug 28, 2015
author/source: Millie Pilkington

School children

As schools go back next week, thousands of proud parents across the UK will be taking their kids to school for the first time.

To help them capture the moment forever, online marketplace eBay – which has over 100,000 school uniform listings and a dedicated school shop as well as more than 28,000 lunch boxes and 47,000 pencil cases listed on site – has teamed up with leading children’s photographer Millie Pilkington.

Millie, who took the official family portraits for Prince Edward’s 50th birthday and the private photos for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding, has written ten top photo tips for parents to take the perfect first day at school snap:

1.       Plan ahead:  your child’s first day of school can be full of emotion and stress, so check your camera is charged, choose the location and any props you need the day before.

.2.       Location, location, location: natural light is preferable to a flash so, weather permitting, choose somewhere outside. Avoid cluttered backgrounds – the simpler and "cleaner" it is, the more your child(ren) will stand out in the image. It's also fun to repeat this photo every year, so select a location that will work each time. In front of a closed front door is usually great for light, framing, convenience, simplicity and you can also measure their growth each year against the doorknob.  

.3.       Avoid direct sunlight on their faces as it will make them squint. Choose a shadier spot like a doorway. Under a tree, facing into the light is another option, but make sure there is no dappled light falling onto their faces.   

.4.       What if it’s raining? Choose a "naturally light" room in your house with large windows, like a conservatory. Or open the front door, but ensure the light falls onto their faces. If they are standing directly in front of the light source, their faces are likely to come out dark.

5.       Camera settings – unless you know your way around your camera, keep it simple. Set it to automatic mode and turn off the flash. If photographing indoors and the shots are coming up dark, increase the ISO setting up to 800 or 1,600. Use the flash as a last resort.  

6.       All ready? Before you pick up the camera, ensure the kids are ready – hair brushed, coat/blazer on, socks pulled up (or down). Children have short attention spans when it comes to photos, so you have to be quick.

7.       Props:  it’s fun to include their school bag or lunchbox, but you could try a favourite teddy, or get them to write their name and the date on a piece of paper.  

8.       Strike a pose: don’t ask them to smile as you’ll get their "photo face".   Instead have a few jokes up your sleeve that will make them laugh. Loo humour almost always works! If that fails try a wig or a whoopee cushion.

9.       Include siblings in some of the photos for a nice family feel.

10.     Don’t panic if it goes wrong: if emotions are too high and everything is rushed, just try again the following day.  When you look back on the photos, you won’t notice it wasn’t on the day itself.