Graduation time is here again, which means your preschooler is about to be a full-fledged kindergartener! How time flies. Snapping a few photos is the perfect way to mark the milestone—but getting a preschooler to cooperate isn’t always the easiest. Here, Julia Kelleher, a professional photographer and Nikon ambassador, shares her top tips for capturing the cutest preschool graduation photos.
1. Take Photos Outside
Outside your front door is a great location. Chances are the light is good there, plus it’s symbolic of the door your graduating child is going through to the next stage of their lives. Another great location is the school playground. Your child spent a lot of their time there this year, and if it’s one of their favorite spots, you’re sure to get genuine moments and lots of expression there.
2. Avoid Shooting in Full, Bright Sun
Find some shade if you can—preferably shade that’s not in the grass. The green grass will bounce green light into your child’s face, making them green! If you’re dealing with dark lighting, shoot near a window. If you can’t move to a spot with better light, increase your ISO so the camera has more sensitivity to low light.
3. Use Chalkboards to Track Milestones
Chalkboards (or letter boards) are the perfect props for this age. Write down your child’s favorite foods, phrases, stuffed animals and what they want to be when they grow up, along with their age, height and weight. It makes a great addition to that graduation photo and helps you remember all the fun, quirky characteristics they had at this age.
4. Let Your Child Dress Themselves
Preschoolers always pick such creative, crazy outfits, and it makes the image have so much personality!
5. Add Toys and Accessories as Props
Things like your child’s favorite stuffed animal, a balloon, lollypop, rain boots or a pair of sunglasses are an easy way to add dimension to your graduation photo.
6. Ask Your Kids to Sit on the Same Stool
If you have two little ones, getting both siblings in the frame makes for super-cute graduational photos. A stool is an easy prop, and the expressions you’ll get are priceless.
7. Turn On Some Music and Let Your Kid Dance
I do this all the time with preschoolers, and they eat it up. "Mommy shark, doo-doo, too-doo!!! Daddy shark, doo-doo, too-doo!!!”
8. Trick Your Kid Into Looking at the Camera
Tell your preschooler there’s a creature living in your camera, and that the creature winks at them if they look close enough. I use this every session, and I always get great expressions.
9. Get Good Behavior By Gossiping
I pretend the camera is talking to me and telling me secrets about the child. This trick works every time, especially when I lower my voice to a whisper. Kids tend to calm down and listen when you whisper!
10. Let Kids Be Kids
Smiles are great, but not the be-all, end-all to good graduation photos. Sometimes a soft, soulful expression that makes their eyes stand out is the most stunning. After all, you want to capture ALL of your child’s expressions, not just when they're smiling.
Julia Keller is a Nikon Ambassador and world renowned, award-winning photographer specializing in newborn, maternity and family portraiture. Julia runs her own studio and educates other professional photographers in the creation of unique imagery and the building of profitable studio businesses. Get more info about Julia here, and check out her website.
Published May 2019