As many of you know, I am a photographer by trade, and because of that, this time of year I get a TON of emails asking about Christmas card photo ideas and tips. Family pictures are always a stress. Pulling together outfits, getting everyone to cooperate…it can all be very overwhelming. If there was one HUGE Christmas card photo tip that I could offer, it would be TO RELAX! I know that is easier said than done, but truly, everything will work out. I have yet to be at a session where I wasn’t able to capture something that works. Often the problem becomes narrowing the choices down more than anything. If you could all see your families the way that I do, or that your photographer does, they see the imperfect moments as a perfectly imperfect. We took our Christmas card photo this past weekend (yes, I wait until the last minute too) and just in case the tip to relax doesn’t quite cut it for you, 😉 I thought I would offer a few more practical Christmas card photo tips.
1. Choosing outfits is almost always one of the most stressful parts of Christmas card photo taking. The biggest help I can offer in this department is choose something you are comfortable in. Let each family member represent their own style by choosing pieces that are something you would wear on a regular day. Don’t try and make your Christmas card photo make you appear like people that you aren’t. Keep it real. 😉 That doesn’t mean that you can’t wear a nice version of what your everyday style is, but stay true to your style. If you try to dress everyone up in things they are uncomfortable in, that will show through in your images.
2. Don’t be afraid to get cozy. When your photographer tells you to get closer together…get closer together! Show those family bonds in your willingness to get close and snuggle. While it may feel unnatural to do that in front of someone you just met (aka your photographer), that is what makes a great photo and will create an image that you cherish forever. I assure you that your photographer will think it’s much more strange if you aren’t willing to get close to each other. Many, many years ago, I had a PAINFUL shoot with a family that practically didn’t even want to stand next to each other. It was SO hard to capture an image that resonated love and a tight family bond because they were incredibly uncomfortable being around each other. It made the whole session very awkward. It made me wonder why they even wanted a picture! 😉
3. Bring treats. Bribery is real and it works. Before I was a photographer, I was apparently a toddler that didn’t like to have her picture taken. In one famous extended family Olan Mills photo session (remember those places?) I did not want my picture taken. Grandma whipped out the M&Ms and while they didn’t exactly make me smile, they did stop me from screaming long enough that they were able to capture a picture of the entire family, with me proudly sporting a giant mouthful of M&Ms.
4. Don’t let it stress you out if everyone isn’t looking at the camera and smiling perfectly. Truth be told, those more candid looking moments where not everyone is looking straight at the camera, are usually my favorite shots. I feel like it captures more real life, and that is what I want to remember. Remember the mouthful of M&Ms? It may not be the best picture of me, but it’s cute and tells fun story. That picture would probably have been all but forgotten if I had been cooperative and had a nice smile plastered on my face, but instead it s a funny family memory that makes me and others remember that experience and laugh.
Here is what we’re wearing this year…I love to mix patterns and colors, so I actually added in a more colorful, patterned shirt for myself at the last minute in place of the gray sweater. My shirt is navy with hints of both the more pinky-purple stripe in Andy’s shirt, as well as the burgundy in Ashley’s dress. I was very pleased with the way the color palette worked. None of these things broke the bank either. Ashley’s dress was only $24! I linked to some of my finds from my favorite affiliate partners in case you are a last minute Christmas card photo taker like I am and need to order something pronto! 😉
I can’t wait to show you the final results! The cards are being ordered this week!
I hope that you are feeling less stressed about taking your Christmas card photo this year. Even if it is still stressful for you, just do it! You will not regret it in the years to come when you look back.
Have a wonderful day!