The day Liam started preschool was one of the most emotional days of his life so far for me.
He started school mid-year, so we were the only ones going through it at the time, and although I knew it was going to be a big deal, I was completely unprepared for what an emotional wreck I was going to be. We'd already had a sitter three days a week for him so were used to being separated. I knew drop off was going to be hard, but I fully thought that I would be fine after that.
I look at these photos above, taken just as we were leaving the house for his first day of school and wow, my heart is beating a little faster and I'm getting a little teary now just remembering how brave he was and, truthfully, how brave I had to be.
It turns out dropping your first child off somewhere new, to be with strangers, is WAAAAAAAY different than having a babysitter come to your house to watch your kid while you're downstairs working.
Only one of us cried, and it wasn't Liam. Although at least I held it together until after I left the school...
I look at these photos now, and I see a brave and excited little two year old, taking everything in his stride.
I look at these photos and I don't see his anxiety - I see mine.
At drop-off, I asked the teacher to take a few photos of the two of us - there you can see his anxiety, and heartbreaking bravery. And of course he did great, no tears the first day, only a few tears the second day, and very few after that.
In the early photos from preschool that the teachers took and posted for parents to see, I could that it took him a little while to settle in. And now, a year and a half later, he's a completely different kid there - confident and at ease, and I love seeing the close friendships he's developed with his classmates.
I know all around the country, many kids have already been back to school for a week or two, but here in New York City, most kids are going back this week.
So, belatedly for some, here are my tips for first day of school or back-to-school photos - and if your kids are already back at school, I'm sure you already took photos but it's not too late to take more that capture the emotions and feelings around this general time of new beginnings.
Don't forget, photographing your children is not just about capturing THEIR emotions, it's also about capturing your emotions.
Even if you're not in the photo, take photos that will remind you of what you were feeling.
nyc baby, child and family photographer, former architect & mom alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn. her company, nestingNYC, specializes in baby photography as interior design & interior design for babies. she also teaches an online photography workshop for parents. find out more about The Photosanity Workshop or send her an e-mail!