The Daunting Christmas Card! To take your own photos or hire a professional?
Christmas Season is just around the corner and that always brings up the option to send out Christmas Cards – which can be a total chore if you do not know how to get a decent photo of your family. If you are going to have your pictures taken by a professional, or you are going to attempt to take them yourselves, there are many ways you can prep to make the experience more seamless.
But where should we take our Christmas Card Photo??
Location, Location, Location!!
Deciding where (and when) to take your photos should be your first step
Before even looking for a photographer or worrying about how you are going to take them yourself, brainstorm your location ideas. Even if you’re not quite sure where exactly you want to take your pictures, think about which backgrounds and textures you like and what kinds of colors you want to incorporate. Think about places your family likes to go together or even try to incorporate colors from your home. Try to at least narrow it down to which type of place you would like your photos at – the beach, a field, a park or even your own home. Try to keep in mind your kids ages and what will be easiest for your family. Next, pick a photographer, whether that is yourself with a camera and a timer, or a professional photographer. If you decide to hire a professional, be sure to ask their opinion about the location you chose. Time of day is just as important as the location itself. For outdoor locations, the best time of the day is early in the morning (the first 2 hours after sunrise) or the hour before the sun sets (this is even more important for beach locations). After an exact location and time has been decided on, it is time to move onto outfits.
What should you wear for your holiday photos?
DO NOT MATCH (all the way at least)
For outfits, the days of jeans and white t-shirts is gone. Though it might be easier to dress the entire family in the same outfits, this actually takes away from the individuality of each family members’ face. By choosing a color group instead, the photo can still look cohesive but it allows each person’s individuality to shine through. It also gives people more clothing options so they can choose something that flatters their body type. Stick to 3-4 colors, for example dark gray, light gray, and navy blue. Or try 3 different neutral shades, with a big pop of color -tan, brown, cream, and coral. Start with one outfit, article of clothing, or accessory for inspiration and build off of that one piece. Keep in mind the location because you don’t want to choose colors that will blend into the background or choose colors that will detract from the background. If you are totally lost, try choosing outfits that blend well with the colors inside your home, because after all that is where they will be displayed.
Last step, Take the photo yourself? Or hire a professional?
After you have the outfits, and the location, the last part of the puzzle is the equipment. If you hire a photographer, they will be able to direct you as to exact location, time of day and will then direct you during the session through a number of poses and candid shots. Most professionals will make sure to take both types of shots (candid and posed) as well as individuals of everyone, and different combinations of family members (siblings, mom and dad, mom with kids, dad with kids etc).
Hiring a professional takes the work out of the actual photography part, but if you want to try it on your own, all you need is tripod, a camera, the self timer option and possibly a flash. Today, 99% of cameras have self timers, and the ability to take multiples photos at once so set the self timer for at least 10 seconds and have it take multiple pictures in a row, making sure you pose the family before you hop in the shot. If you don’t know how to do this, search for your camera model and self timer in YouTube or Google and watch a video on how to do it. The self timer function is usually both in the menu settings and as a button on the body of the camera itself. If you are back-lighting (the sun is behind you) you will need a flash, but if there is adequate light, try avoiding the flash for a softer look. You can also look at websites such as Pinterest for inspiration but most of all go into it with an open mind and remember, pictures just capture a moment in time and should reflect your life as it is now, not perfection.