Whether you’re sending out beautifully-embossed prints or going digital this year, you want your photos to aptly capture your bond as a family. To help ease the pressure of your picture day preparations, consider these photo-taking tips to guarantee a swoon-worthy Christmas card.
1. Find a suitable location
Your location will affect a lot of other elements of your family holiday card. Try to find a location that feels authentic to your family and roll with it. If you’re taking photos at home, make sure that the background is relaxed yet uncluttered - you can pose together while preparing a meal, for example, but make sure there are no dirty dishes visible in the background ruining the shot. If you prefer the outdoors or a more urban location, you may want to incorporate the beautiful landscapes in your area or the cityscape. No matter what you pick as your location, make sure it’s a place with limited distractions. If there’s too much going on, it will be difficult to get your little ones to focus on the camera.
2. Selecting outfits for a photoshoot
Once you’ve found a suitable location, your outfits should reflect that. If you settle on shooting on the beach, for example, think about wearing tanks, creams, whites, and blues. If you’re shooting in the desert, warm earth tones and pops of muted florals and moody colors will work well.
- Coordinate, but don’t match
It’s a common sight on family holiday cards - the whole family, from Grandma to the family pet, is wearing the same Christmas-themed outfit. It’s coordinated, yes, and can even be adorable especially if you’re all in matching pajamas in front of your Christmas tree. However, if you’re headed to the studio, your family holiday card may not come across as sophisticated as you may have hoped.
For the best results, start by picking a color scheme, then add different shades, textures, and patterns. You can have your little ones wear contrasting knitted rompers, or a more plain onesie if you’re going for a neutral look, for example. You also want to match your styles to ensure that everyone is at the same level of formality - you don’t want Dad in a suit and your little man in jeans.
- Avoid big logos or patterns
You don’t want outfits that take attention away from the people posing for the photo, which is why you’ll want to avoid large letters or logos. All colors are fine, but be careful not to mix too many busy patterns. If your little one has a plaid skirt, make sure they pair it with a solid-colored top.
- Make sure the clothes are comfortable
Comfort is a top priority when it comes to taking great family holiday card photos. Discomfort is easily noticeable in pictures, so make sure that the clothes you pick out for your little ones (as well as what you wear yourself) are comfortable. Sitting in your clothes is a good measure of comfort - if you’re unable to sit in your outfit, then it’s probably too tight to be photographed in especially if you’ll be moving around or snuggling up.
3. Lighting can make or break your photo
When you’re taking the photos yourself, the right lighting is crucial. Natural lighting is always the best - not direct midday sunlight, but earlier or later in the day when the light is softer. If you’re shooting inside, be sure to select a room that gets plenty of natural light.
4. Find a good photographer
If you decide to hire a professional to take photos for your family holiday card, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Photographing kids is an art in itself, so look for a “family” or “lifestyle” photographer who has experience working with children. Emotions can change quickly when dealing with kids, so you’ll want to go for someone who is used to working quickly. In some photography sessions, you might only get a smiling child for 10 minutes. Most family photographers are well-equipped to navigate these situations and produce great images in that short period.
5. Have toys and snacks handy
It’s always helpful to have a selection of toys and snacks at the ready in case your kids need distractions. Snacks will help to deal with potential hunger pains during longer-than-expected photoshoots. Easy snacks like pretzels and crackers will fill them up without resulting in stains, spills, and big messes. Toys will keep them entertained and involved, and you might just get those smiles you’re hoping for!
6. Consider doing something active
Rather than opting to do a traditional staged shoot with everyone looking directly into the camera, consider getting your photos taken while doing something active, like baking holiday cookies or decorating your Christmas tree. You can also take things outside and take some cool snowy shots of your family building a snowman.
7. Let your kids be themselves
Sure, the perfect smiling family photo will make for a great holiday card, but what’s cuter than seeing your kids’ personalities shining through the photos? Don’t focus too much on getting the “perfect” shot. You’ll be surprised to find that your favorite photo will be the candid one that captures the chaos. Plus, it’s so much more relaxing when you’re not trying too hard to pose for pictures and force unnatural smiles.
8. Focus on each other
Nothing captures intimacy within the family like looking at each other. Try looking into each other’s eyes, share a smile, and laugh so the bond you have within the family is evident in your Christmas card photo.
9. Use simple props
A wheelbarrow stuffed with presents or bright Christmas lights may seem like suitable holiday photo props, but the truth is that they can come across as cheesy distractions. If you insist on including props, then try to keep it simple. Remember, the focus should be on your family.
10. Be mindful of the time of day
Everyone loves photos during the “golden hour” before sunset when the light is noticeably softer. However, if it’s too close to your kids’ bedtime, you’re better off picking another time to take photos. Taking good family holiday cards can be difficult when your little ones are tired and cranky.
Taking a great family photo is not always easy. From selecting the appropriate outfit to getting all your little ones to participate, the process can be a bit stressful. With the tips above in mind, you can make the process a bit more fun this year.