Back to School Pictures (That Won’t Cost Time or Money)

Back to school pictures are great in theory. In practice, they can be overly precious and hard to pull off—especially during a time of year that’s already kind of, you know, extremely busy. So what to do if you know you’re gonna want photos of the back to school experience later, but you lack time and high production values?

Join us for a teachable moment, friends: peruse our roundup of back to school picture ideas that focus on highlighting what’s unique about your child, with simple props and minimal fussing.

Sidewalk chalk

Photo by Paging Fun Mums.

Is there anything more quintessentially kiddo than sidewalk chalk? It’s colorful, full of endless creative potential, and makes it easy to start over and try something new. Sidewalk chalk illustrations, therefore, are the perfect low-cost, low-effort companion to a back to school photo.

The photo above provides a great example of using your sidewalk chalk to tell a story. Not only is this kid adorable (we’re digging the primate-themed tee), but the sidewalk chalk in this image lets us know that he has dreams of going into space.


Photo by Jane Can.

You don’t have to hand over all your apples to hardworking teachers. Hang onto one and use it to take a sweet back to school picture. Delicious, nutritious, and adorable!

Pro tip: Add visual interest to your shot by making the apple a focal point. Try selective colorization (use a black and white effect, then erase from your apple using the Paint palette), our Focal Blur effect, or even some bokeh to draw attention where you want it.


We weren’t kidding when we said there’d be simple props. A pencil’s about as simple as it gets, but you know some other words for simple? Classic. Timeless. Minimalist.

You’re welcome.

In seriousness, incorporating a pencil into your back to school photo ops is super easy, and gives your subject room to ham it up for the camera. Maybe they’ll tuck it behind their ear, or wave it like a magic wand, or go a little silly and balance it under their nose (as demonstrated flawlessly in the above photo). The fun of this one comes from how they express themselves.

About them graphic

As long as you’re going for a nostalgia-worthy image, add some information to your back to school pictures to help them tell a story. Using PicMonkey’s text tool, it’s easy to include your child’s name, age, favorite hobbies, dreams for the future, and more. That way, you’ll be able to look back and recall what was going on in their lives when the picture was taken.

Pro tip: Try fonts in the Handwriting and Penmanship groups to bring a fun, school-days vibe to your images.


Photo by Honey + Lime.

For a touch of DIY charm, incorporate a back to school sign into your photo shoots. A customized message can tell the world what grade your kiddos are entering and how they’re feeling about going back to school, or it can highlight something about their personality by including a favorite color or animal in the design.

Pro tip: If the idea of crafting your own sign from scratch feels daunting, rest easy! PicMonkey has an entire theme chockful of graphics, textures, and more that you can use to put together a superb-looking sign in no time flat. It’s called School U, and it totally rules.


You may have noticed we’re in favor of silliness around here. Kids are only young once, so let them be kids in your photos! These kinds of photos are easy to stage: they require no special props, costumes, or backdrops (though if you feel moved to include some, we’re not the ones to tell you no). All you need is some patience and a willingness to laugh.

Photo by Phil Hyman Photography on Instagram.

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Elisa Chavez

Elisa Chavez is a content writer here at PicMonkey, where she hopes to change the world one dinosaur selfie at a time. She is also a nationally ranked slam poet, champion shopper, and doting dog mama.