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image(BPT) – As children across the country gear up with their new backpack, school supplies, clothes and haircuts, parents are reaching for their cameras, ready to capture another milestone: the annual back-to-school photo. This year, capture that memorable shot like a professional with a few expert tips and tricks.

Lights, camera, action! Here’s how to get the best back-to-school photos of your child.

Preparation: Change the batteries in your camera or charge your phone the night before school starts so it’s ready to go in the morning.

Lights: Make sure you have proper lighting – using natural light like the sun may be best. Lighting can make or break your photo, so be sure there is enough light to showcase your child, yet not distract from the photo. Avoid having your child look directly into the sunlight, which causes squinty eyes. Also avoid shooting directly into the sunlight as it will darken the photo overall. If you are using a flash, make sure that your child is not too close to a background that may cast a shadow.

Setting: What says "back to school" better than a yellow school bus? Choose a background that will visually tell the story of the special occasion.

Framing: Try different angles – close-ups, mid-range, long-range – to add visual appeal. Try some photos in landscape mode, some in portrait, and maybe some that are even off-center. You can add some depth by framing a photo with an interesting foreground or background.image

Capture the moment: Going back to school touches on a variety of emotions: excitement, nervousness or maybe even a little reluctance. Convey the day’s true feelings with natural expressions and poses through candid photos. Catch your children as they are getting ready for their first day, as they are awaiting the school bus, or as they are waving good-bye. Candid shots that show true emotions will capture the spirit of the day and tell a better story than posed shots.

Share it: The first day of school is a special time for parents and children, so why not share it? Choose your favorite photo and post it on the Thomas Built Buses Photo Contest page on Facebook. Not only is it a great way to share the photo with your friends, but parents who submit the top five winning photos will each receive a $2,000 donation for their child’s school program in science, technology and math.

Find out more about Thomas Built Buses and its Back to School Photo Contest at or