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Back to School (again)

It all starts with the backpack. I let my daughter pick her own (rainbows, it had to be magical she said) in an attempt to get her excited about school again. We also got new clothes, shoes and a unicorn lunchbox.

First day last year I had to stay for a few hours, so she could "adjust" to her new environment. Now she can go in all by herself. How is she growing up this fast? School is exactly the same, but my daughter has changed. This time last year I was peeling her sticky fingers from my leg as she begged me to stay and color, now she gives me a kiss outside the classroom and tells me to "stay" as she runs towards the doors, rainbow backpack flapping at the speed. After having a cry (my baby is growing up so fast!) and an iced latte, I head home to start prepping for the upcoming school picture season.

When trying to dredge up hazy memories from my own childhood, I vaguely recall being lined up, and one by one being quickly posed in front of a hideous paint-splat backdrop, a couple quick flashes and then I would forget about it until a week or two later my mother would open the envelope of proofs, half of which my eyes were closed or I looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

As a photographer, I know the ins and outs of school photography, and after doing this for several years, have a tailored workflow that makes the process simple for schools that engage our E2go services.

As a mother, I have a unique perspective and how to help parents prep for the epic fall picture day as well as engage the kiddos to get that perfect picture.

Now the process is so different. Instead of a letter home, I send emails to parents. Instead of waiting two weeks for proofs, I can get them posted online in a day or two. The speed and convenience allowed by modern technology makes it easier for parents to make selections and for me to focus on the artistic aspect of school pictures.

In today's school photography world, it's more personal, less of an assembly line product.

I typically communicate with the teachers and parents about what types of outfits work best with the scene or backdrop the school has selected (whether it's solid black, green screen, or on the front lawn with a hay bail and pumpkins). I know it can be tempting to dress our little one in paisley leggings, but I normally recommend solid colors, so the outfit won’t take away from a sweet smile.

I interact with the kids, capturing a real moment that parents can truly treasure. I keep going until I get that moment, instead of only taking a few automatic shots, that pay no attention to the child's focus or expression. For younger children especially (few of whom smile on cue) I can often engage a few spontaneous smiles with the help of a few fun props.

I edit out random stains that always show up on the after-lunch class, erase flyaway hairs from outdoor sessions when it's breezy and easily smooth out those little bumps and scratches the more adventurous kiddos have from recess.

While I enjoy the ease of new systems and workflows that allow speed and technical perfection, what I love most about school photography is that I can present these personalized portraits to parents who will have a unique image to cherish, making it more than just another school picture.

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