As the countdown to Christmas begins, I’ve started to think about two things: our annual family calendar and our Christmas card. I love getting photo cards from family and friends at this time of year, but it’s so hard to pick just one picture to send to everyone! This year, with the baby coming, I’m planning to use the Christmas card as a birth announcement too. It just means I have to get a family photo done sometime this month…
and taking family photos can be tough. I’ve often been thankful for the wonders of the digital age, because I shoot dozens of pictures of the girls and then delete most of them (too blurry, too silly, too smiley, too much scowl, too distracted, etc). Even when we’ve gotten professional photos done, it can be hard to get the girls to cooperate and present themselves in the best possible way on paper.
Minted.com not only has a great selection of holiday cards, they also have tips for getting the best pictures for your cards. This year, I’m delighted to be working with them for our family Christmas card—and I’m hoping some of their tips will help us get the best family photo! Here’s some tips from them and me on how to take great family pictures.
Find a good location.
Whether you’re trying to photograph your kids yourself or hiring a photographer, a good location makes a huge difference. I find it hard to take pictures of the girls at home; the lighting just doesn’t work and there are too many things that can cause background distractions.
If the weather is nice, I’ve tried to head outside with them. If the weather doesn’t work, a photographer’s studio offers more options. Your local photographer probably also has some great ideas about fun locations to shoot pictures. And the right location may also help your kids relax and be themselves, instead of trying hard to pose for pictures (as my girls like doing).
Pick the holiday card first.
I wish I’d thought of this when I was creating Jade’s birth announcements! A big part of creating the perfect Christmas card is matching your picture with the right design. Drop by Minted to browse their holiday cards before shooting your pictures. When you’ve found a couple designs you like, you can make sure that the kids’ outfits don’t clash with the colours in the design—and you’ll also know whether you need a horizontal or vertical picture to fit that design. You might even get some great ideas for poses or pictures while you’re browsing.
Let the kids be kids.
Some of our best family photos are the ones that are completely unposed and unplanned. Try to let your kids be themselves. Take pictures quickly; I find that often, the first few pictures I take are the best because after that, the girls are trying too hard to smile or pose and the pictures become forced or uncomfortable.
One of my favourite framed pictures of Lily was captured by a professional photographer; it’s a picture of her reaching out to touch a flower that was part of the backdrop. We’d already tried several different poses and pictures and the photographer had almost put her camera down when Lily got distracted by the flower and then looked back at us. The photographer was quick to seize the moment and that picture, completely natural, was the best of the ones she took.
A few things that can help with encouraging your kids to be themselves, as the Minted.com article states, include picking the right location, picking the right clothes for your kids, and picking the right photographer. I have several friends who are photographers and they’ve gotten great pictures of my girls because they know my girls or can just hang out with us and shoot photos.
One last tip: don’t leave it to the last minute!!! If you haven’t already gotten your family picture done and started planning your card, you should start NOW! I’m leaving it a bit last minute this year because I want to include the baby on the card (and don’t know exactly when he or she is arriving). While waiting for baby to arrive, though, I’ve started browsing Minted.com’s new designs… 🙂
Do you send out a family Christmas card every year? How do you get your kids to cooperate with the annual picture?
I received credit with Minted.com for ordering our holiday cards in exchange for this post; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.