We’ve been taking annual professional photos so long that my children have almost gotten used it. Through that experience, I’ve adapted a “let it go” philosophy and learned the secrets to getting great photos. That does not mean they are always perfect and everyone is thrilled about taking them. A part of me accepts I might not get the perfect photo I dreamed up in my head but I know I’ll get something cute out of the deal. Because they are my kids right?
We use our photos every year to send out traditional snail mail Christmas cards. My husband and I sit by the fire after bedtime watching It’s a Wonderful Life while addressing Christmas cards by hand.
Our family loves getting them and we enjoy connecting with old (and new) friends. We have folks on our address list that we haven’t talked to in years. But we still exchange cards. When going over our lists each year we always agree, we can’t break the string. They must feel the same. And I LOVE that.
During the holiday month, my girls get excited each day to visit the mailbox and open the cards we recieve in return. It’s tradition. And it’s lovely. Old school, touch and feel, hang and see cards really are the best. Yesterday we got our first card in the mail from my cousin in Michigan who the girls have only met once (at least that they can remember). Now it’s proudly displayed where they can look and talk about seeing those two sweet, rambuctious little boys again one day.
Having photos that perfectly depicts our family on the card is a must -be it snapshots from the beach or professional photos. We have a photographer who has been taking our pictures for six years. She runs specials where we book a 30 minute session and all the photos are included in the sitting fee cost. Places like Shutterfly are great for ordering cards, as well as other photo gifts for the holidays.
Two years ago I wrote a post on Tips for taking professional photos with kids, which is still one of my most popular blog posts. Below is a little update from doing our Christmas shoot this year.
Make it fun – This year we brought out extra cheer for our holiday photo shoot. We had banners, hats, a red Christmas tree, a Nutcracker, a red lantern, a vintage red camper and more. I had a tote of props for the girls to choose from and use in the photos. They were begging to decorate for Christmas, two weeks before Thanksgiving! So going into the basement to find Christmas decor made them happy. And I told them after the shoot they could continue by decorating their rooms. Two weeks before Thanksgiving – GASP.
About half way through we put the props up, took some non Christmas looking photos and then popped into the downtown coffee shop for the reward of hot chocolate (we even splurged for a cookie too).
Let kids pick out their own outfits – I try not fuss over what they wear. I strategically give them some options so our patterns and colors don’t clash and distract the backgrounds of where we are shooting. As they get older, letting them show their own style choices is a must.
This time my oldest girl had a new dress she received for her birthday that she wanted to wear, that dictated colors and outfit options for all of us. My middle girl put her foot down about not wearing a dress (literally stomping while standing in the store). She picked out an inexpensive pair of black jeans and a shirt that says “Sparkle is my favorite color.” It made her happy enough to look forward to taking photos. Which was a successful compromise for me.
They were all excited to have a new coat. It is the first time I have ever bought them dress coats opposed to multi purposing something we have. Which was a new fun treat for them.
They all approved of their outfits, the outing, the holiday props and getting to decorate their rooms as part of the gig.
The only hick up was my oldest girl was disappointed that it was sooooooooo cold, her coat covered her exciting new dress. And we had frustration over not getting an ear ring in right – which could happen any day. These are examples we just have to roll with on picture day.
Giving up control – I strategically placed seeds for the photos I wanted by selecting the props and let the girls run with it all after that. I had to let it go when my the head of the Nutcracker broke off right after I told my middle girl we could take the photo at the next stop, because she didn’t like the background of a plain white door. Then it broke. Darn, missed that photo I really wanted. I tried my best not to harp on the girls to act a certain way. It’s best to let their personalties shine through. And then I told them to follow the photographer’s lead, removing myself from the picture. I trust her. Plus, kids always listen better to someone other than their parents.
Thanks Lori Anderson, for these awesome photos.