Nostalgia always strikes as summer comes to an end. In an ever-evolving society with bustling news feeds and cellphone apps that can remotely lock up homes, back-to-school shopping lists are a reminder that blank notebooks (call them analog blogs!) symbolize a fresh start, and remembering a locker combination remains a coming-of-age test.
Similarly, while your iPhone’s photo gallery may be dedicated to all the cute things your kids do, there’s still something special about picture day at school. Those senior portraits and class photos are the images that make the frames on fireplace mantles (and, one day, will become “Throwback Thursday,” or #TBT, gems).
Prepping for picture day
Professional photographer Molly Plann of Perfect Plann Photography says getting ready for picture day should be fun.
“For elementary school kids, my advice is let them choose what they will wear,” she says. “You are more likely to get a great smile out of a kid if they are wearing their favorite Spider-Man shirt vs. anything else that you pick out.”
For teens preparing for their senior pictures, Plann says a little gentle guidance is in order.
“Solid colors are best, and avoid strong patterns if possible,” she says. “If the teen is involved in a special hobby or sport, have one of the outfits reflect that.”
Often, seniors can do a few outfit changes for their portraits. Plann suggests one outfit be formal, one casual and the other fun.
“You do want the clothes to reflect the teen’s personality and who they are at this time in their lives,” she says.
For professional photos, Plann advises to avoid wearing an all-white shirt or a very strong pattern, as those looks pull the viewer’s eye away from the face. Help your child choose a color they feel great in.
“If you feel good, you’ll look good,” she says.
Another tip: If your child has braces and doesn’t want to show those teeth, that’s OK.
“Great pictures can happen with a closed-mouth smile, too,” Plann says. “Help them practice their perfect closed-mouth smile in the mirror.”
Posing for photos and picking an outfit
Model Sam Evans, 13, is the youngest male model to have ever signed with NEXT Models, a global modeling agency.
His first tip before getting in front of the camera for senior pictures? Be confident and have fun.
“Everyone has a unique personality, so use the camera to tell your story and show who you are,” he says.
Evans relays a tip he’s learned from top-level photographers he’s worked with: Relax your mouth and the muscles in your face to look more natural. And make sure your eyes aren’t squinting.
“Focus in on the lens of the camera and act like you are looking at the eyes of another person,” he says.
Also, keep your chin pointed more down rather than up – just not too down to avoid the dreaded double chin.
When you’re picking out outfits for senior pictures, find one that will stand the test of time. For young women, natural makeup is a good bet.
A couple of back-to-school trends Evans says he’s noticing for 2014 include fitted jeans and cool graphic T-shirts for young men, and vintage-inspired leather coats with skinny jeans for young women.
Todd Christiansen, with Lands’ End kids merchandising, says two of the biggest trends he’s seeing this year for the back-to-school season are jeans and sweat shirts, which are looks that are great for school photos and will prove to be versatile.
Denim is appearing not just in jeans, he says, but also in chambray shirts and dresses. For girls, dots and floral prints are layered on denim for a translucent, subdued detailing. A boys’ long-sleeve chambray shirt with a camo print is proving popular for fall.
Woven shirts are classics that have had a moment in every decade and are back again for fall 2014, Christiansen says.
“Pairing up sweat shirts with woven shirts and jeans is a core go-to look for back-to-school this year,” he says.
For sweat shirts, the silhouette crew shirts with color-blocking and prints are in this season. A “crew sweat shirt” is an essential piece for boys, while a sherpa-lined hoodie is a versatile piece for girls.
Also, personalization is key, with kids able to choose monograms or embroidered icons (everything from sharks to cupcakes to basketballs) to adorn their backpacks, lunchboxes, cardigans, T-shirts or other apparel. They can have fun with word play, too, combining the word “pool” with a shark icon, for example.
Initials add a timeless touch, says Christiansen, and the embroidery allows children to incorporate creativity into their wardrobe and make it uniquely their own.