A few years ago, I was scrolling through Facebook and taking in all of the First Day of School photographs that my friends took of their children. The kids had backpacks filled to the brim, and their first day outfits were all pristine and unique to them. Most of the kids smiled, while some families went with more of a humorous route and posted photographs of kids clinging to the door, or moping with arms crossed while their parents jumped in the air. I’d smile, and give them a like, then watch my son as he played on the beach.
It gave me an idea.
You see, my son is homeschooled, and for the past few years we have spent the first week or two of September on the Cape. So, while most kids had been shuffled back into their classrooms, we spent time on the nearly empty beaches and in the quiet museums.
That year I thought it would be funny to take portraits of Brayden on the beach and title them “Not Back to School” pictures. It would show how we could take his education on the road, and give a bit of a nod to the tradition of the First Day pictures. While it did get some laughs, it also became a yearly tradition. It was a way to make sure I had new portraits of him as he and his personality grew.
Here’s one from last year:
Obviously, this year is a bit different.
The pandemic has shifted things for everyone. For the most part, kids won’t be back to school. Remote learning is back on the rise, with some schools doing a hybrid program. I’m sure we’ve all been following that news, so I won’t dig into it, but the point is that the First Day pictures will look and feel different, if they happen at all for some families.
Our plans have changed, too. We were lucky to have been the first ones into the house we rent on the Cape back in June, so we could quarantine there, but the fall trip won’t be happening. We’ve cancelled all other travel, too, and we’re sticking with safe, local day trips to get us out of the house every once in a while. We’re trying to make the best of things and get creative.This year, that includes his Not Back to School portraits.
I wanted to continue the tradition, in order to capture him at this age, but this year I wanted to add just how different things are. That’s why, in some of these photographs, I’ve included his mask. Quarantine and caution have been important this year for many, and we aren’t excluded from that. With high risk family members, we’ve been careful to keep our circle small, and our outings as safe as possible.
There’s a mix of locations within these photographs. I wanted to include where his father lives, where my partner and I live, and where we take walks together. For the most part, this is how small our world has become, and will continue to be until there is absolutely safe to do anything else.
I encourage all parents to photograph this time in their children’s lives. If they’re homeschooled, remote schooling, hybrid schooling, or going full time with a mask, it’s worth documenting. There will be a day, later on in our lives, where we look back to remember how things were, how things changed, and how we all adapted. Photographs help us remember, and help us share our stories.