Now that Halloween is over, the holidays will be here before we know it. (yes I know ducking my head, they are really coming and quickly)

That means its time to start thinking about your photos for the holiday cards you’ll be sending this season. Hopefully you’ve already booked your holiday photography session with a professional photographer in your area.

If not, perhaps you’ll attempt to capture your children yourselves this year for your annual holiday card?

I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips that will help you get the most out of your holiday photography shoot with the least amount of stress.

Plan ahead: This is key to capturing your children naturally with the least amount of stress. Avoid nap time or that time of the day when your children might not be at their best – better know in my house as the “bewitching ” hour. If your children are sick the day you planned your shoot – POSTPONE IT. Trust me, if your children don’t feel well and are cranky it will show in the final portraits – it’s just not worth the stress. That’s a key in my photography sessions: NO STRESS!  🙂

Dress for Success: Plan the clothing out ahead of time.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ll be wearing your holiday best or a more casual timeless look – you need to plan it out!
Stay away from loud large logos or clothing that clashes. The “rainbow look” for families went out with the 1980s, so always consider timeless apparel. Dress your children in clothing that’s comfortable and that fits them properly. It’s always best to try on the clothing before the shoot…not the day of the shoot. Nothing is worse than ripping off the price tags as you arrive at the studio and learn that the clothing doesn’t fit your child properly.  If your photography shoot is planned for outdoors dress appropriately for the weather. If its cold outside dress them in layers or in coats that compliment their outfits. If its hot make sure they won’t get over heated. Another key thing in my photography is comfort. If you’re children are comfortable in their clothes they’ll be happy and content which makes my job easier.
Remember not everyone has to match but its best that everyone has coordinating colors in their outfits.  Remember, you want your portraits to be about your children, not their clothing. Unless you’re going with a fun idea that features the outfit – then go for it. 🙂

Have Fun: Stress is normal but don’t let it dominate the day. Once you’ve stressed about your clothing before the big day – Let the stress go & enjoy your session. If your children feel your stress for getting the perfect photo, they will be stressed too. I can assure you that if you bring stress to the session the shoot won’t go as planned. Let your children be themselves. Let them laugh, crying or run around – this is what tells the story of your child so don’t try to control the environment. If things aren’t going well in the studio (or your home), take them outdoors where they can be themselves. Local parks, playing in the leaves, at the beach (if you’re in a warmer climate) and at play always help children feel more comfortable.

Minor props are acceptable but don’t let them take over the photo. I prefer simple things like a holiday book to flip through or a favorite toy to play with. These can help young children to feel comfortable during the photo shoot as well.

For those of you attempting to capture your children yourselves turn off the flash. Use natural light indoors and out.

Be sure to get down to your children’s level. I like to lay on my belly and look up at them or have them lay down. Use creative high & low angles and get up close capture their faces and expressions.

Never shoot in full sunlight because it causes squinting and raccoon eyes.  The best time of day to shoot during the holidays is before 9:30am and after 3pm.

Just because its the holidays doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a holiday themed shoot. Again think timeless…you want the recipient of your holiday cards and photos to keep the photos and not throw them out or in their holiday card drawer when the holidays are over.

I love to capture my three children all year long at the beach, in the leaves and in the snow. Usually my holiday photo card doesn’t even say “holidays” but I can slip the image into a holiday card or choose a card template that says holidays.  I love showing friends and family what my children look like without having to worry about it screaming holiday photo. Holding hands and walking, playing ring-around-the-rosey, or even just sitting singing their favorite song takes the edge off and offers those natural smiles and contagious giggles that I love.

Finally, don’t force your children to get their pictures taken. Any parent knows that the more you try to get them to do something the more they’ll resist. Try to make it fun and of course a little bribery reward goes a long way. I know first hand with my three busy boys a special treat for those adorable smiles work very well 🙂

Enjoy your holiday shoot and remember to have fun.

I hope you find these tips helpful for your holiday photo shoot. Please feel free to leave anything ideas that have work for you in the comment area.

Here are some children photography session  examples that I feel would work on any holiday card …