Guys, I’m just going to start off by saying I’m not really a kids or family photographer anymore. That used to be my full time thing. My first job that wasn’t nannying was working in one of those mall portrait studios. While it wasn’t really the job I envisioned it would be – ohh so creative and doing whatever I wanted (WRONG) – it DID teach me a lot about photography, running a business, and photographing children. I learned A LOT about cranking out family photos for that Christmas card. The month of December was like black Friday for the studio. It also gave me the ability to tune out insanity: the kids play area was directly outside the studio, and increased my patience level by about 47,000 percent.
So I know many of you are looking out your windows, seeing the fall colors and being like oh man we should take our family photo. You’re also probably realizing that no one is available. That those slots for those holiday mini sessions in the fall colors were booked in June. That’s okay though! We got this!
While obviously I want you to hire someone like me, one of my colleagues to photograph your sweet family, I know sometimes it’s not feasible. If you can’t manage to fit both Christmas or holiday gifts and a holiday session, start by looking at mini sessions. Many photogs offer them at a reduced rate, and are great for getting that photo for your annual card. If it’s still just not in the budget, you don’t have the time, etc. here are 3 tips for DIY holiday photos. I’m not saying it will be as awesome as hiring a professional (it might be), but it will get the job done and help you look great.
Just as if you were going with a professional, coordinate what you are going to wear and where you are going to take the photo. Parks are always a great option, but I’m also a big proponent of using what you got: your home! Especially if your little bops are well.. little. If you are putting your kids (or husband – let’s be real) in the car in an outfit they probably don’t want to wear and you don’t want them to get dirty for a 30+ minute car ride, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So choose somewhere close. Do it on your front porch, stoop, or backyard. Coordinate outfits of pieces you may already own. Everyone doesn’t need to match, or be wearing holiday sweaters. Pick a color family, and then a contrasting color. Blues, grays, and yellows. Purples, whites, and green. Pick pieces that look nice next to each other, and complement your features.
Next, time of day is key. Right before nap time? Yikes. The BEST time of day to shoot when it comes to natural light is the hour before the sun goes down. The light is soft and warm and flattering. If you have to shoot during the day, that’s fine! What you want to look for is shade – particularly open shade. That way no one is squinting, or the sun won’t be so bright it causes what are called hot spots, or blown out areas of the photo.
Finally, use a tripod and a timer or a remote. You can even do this with your phone on a mini tripod. Something like a gorillapod you don’t have to spend a fortune on, but you can use for point and shoot cameras and phones. Phones these days don’t have terrible cameras anymore and I frequently print iPhone images that I take on my adventures for my photo album.
Good luck! And I say this with best of intentions but just remember, at the end of the day most people don’t keep their Christmas cards for forever. So even if it doesn’t turn out how you imagine, there is always next year!
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