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Teen School Photos | Mission Impossible?


Let’s face it, there’s no getting around the fact that the photos you take when your teen goes to High School and College are much different than the ones you take when they went to Grammar School.  Not only will they be different, they will be fewer and further between.

Most times, you won’t even get the “official” student/class photos. There will be less posing, more eye rolls and you will have less time to set up the shot because – Oh my gosh mom, Chill! You are so embarrassing me.

Then, when the first day is past, you are left with a suitcase full of emotions and a mere pocket full of photos.  Is it possible to scrap happy your teen’s school photos?  Of course it is! I’ve been there and am living thru that and have a few tips I’d like to share with you.

It’s not Them, it’s You. You really can’t be too upset your teen is not giving you the school photos you want, you need to embrace that it’s not personal. All teens get camera shy in front of there parents, no matter how many selfies and Instagram photos you may see them post- truth is, they just don’t like standing in front of the camera for a forced pose in front of their friends.

You need to embrace that the school stories you want to tell just won’t follow a simple chronological  format anymore with a photo to illustrate each highlight. You gotta change how you come at this my friend.

But Make it About You.  Focus more on your own emotions about their moving up- write a letter to them as your journaling. You can focus on how you feel about the new normal of High School, what you hope for them, what you wish someone had told you in HS, a list of hacks you’d like to share. Another great source of journaling: tour texts with them. A screenshot of a text, shared meme or emoji can be worth a million words 🙂

Take your photos at home- in stealth mode.  A little creepy, yah- but one day they will thank you for it. Look, you’re not going to get into their classrooms at this age. So, instead, focus on photos of them doing homework, studying, online with friends, of their backpacks, their desk, their room. Of them getting ready in the morning- these are all part of their teen routine and actually tell more of their story then standing in front of their school.

Bribe them.  When he first started High school, I texted my son ( seriously a great way to communicate with them- topped only by Snapchat) and gave him a few shots to take in school- his locker, his classroom, and the hallway during class changes. If he took all 3, I would get that awesome Ravioli he liked for dinner. (Food always motivates boys)

Guess what, 3 photos came thru by text at the end of the day- granted they were not the best- but they were there on my phone and life was good.  A few more pieces of the puzzle for me to use to tell the story.

Use Contrast.  The posed perfect photos of younger years placed side by side of even one of just their back as they flee from you out the door tells a story in itself- and seriously, not one of a bratty teen. But really, one that captures the literal blur this period has become- the fast forward- the change in perspective.  Yah- you will have to journal it, you gotta put the work in for these pages to mean something- but here’s a secret.  Especially if this is your first one in the big grades- You are going through a lot right now.  Even if you don’t realize it- there are a lot of emotions and feelings and tabs open right now.  Journaling- focusing on the good in these moments of crazy change- is a good thing.

Steal if you must.  Want a great way to get photos of school events like a Pep Rally, dance, and other things going on at school? Screenshot your teen’s social media posts- or check out the schools Social media stream! You might not get a photo of your teen at the pep Rally, but a good crowd shot can tell your story just as well- then throw in that one shot form their Instagram feed- we’re talking  gold baby!  It’s also a great way to get photos of the school. Also, take advantage of any opportunities to take photos of the school like Open Houses and school tours. And finally, never underestimate the value of a photo of their ID card, either on it’s own as a “school photo”, or lined up in succession over the years to show how much they have changed!

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.  Sure I have a few posed photos of my Big guy during his High School years- especially during his sports season- but these are the non posed shots that at first glance may seem less than perfect, but now, looking back, I realize tell a really full story of this chapter in his school years.

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4 years ago

Thank you for the inspiration! Mine just started high school two days ago. He is still willing to take first day of school photos because we always take one next to me. It shows how tall he is from year to year….he loves that he is starting to tower over me.

4 years ago

Great post!!

Karen Busby
Karen Busby
4 years ago

This is brilliant post. I am through the teen phase now, but i enjoyed looking through your pictures:)