So I’ve decided to make it a priority to take a photo of the kids for Christmas every year. The past 2 years it’s just been Oliver, but come next year, I’ll have a 2 year old and 9 month old to wrangle together. But that’s my problem for later..
When it come to full family shoots for nice photos, I think going professional is best and if you have the budget and a photographer you love, why not support them for the holidays?
But I’ve found that with phone cameras getting higher and higher quality each year, we’re at the point now where it’s possible to do quick shoots like these all on your own and here are some tips on how to make it happen!
A DIY HOLIDAY SHOOT FOR THE KIDS
FIND A BACKDROP
A good backdrop is basically the foundation of a good holiday photo. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Even a blank wall is fine as long as there’s nothing too distracting.
Last year, my set up was literally just Oliver propped up in a chair with the tree behind him. This year I just took some garland and made a tree on the wall. You can keep it simple or get creative, stay inside or let the outdoors be your backdrop! really anything besides a messy room will do
(also, how do they get so big so fast??)
FIND THE LIGHT
Lighting is make or break for a good photo. Lighting that is too low or too harsh will be very distracting to the eye which will take away from the main focus: your cutie!
If you’re shooting indoors: figure out what time of day is brightest in your home and try to shoot where your scene is facing a window. Not with a window to either side, but with the window straight on. Or in a room that has a lot of windows.
It’s also good to turn off overheads. They’ll add a yellow hue to the photos that will make it look a little too homemade.
If you’re shooting outdoors: You want to go out during a time when the sun isn’t too high in the sky to avoid weird shadows that will distort your kid’s face. A good tip is to figure out when the sun sets and venture out about an hour before that to give yourself enough time to shoot with good lighting.
SET UP A SCENE
You don’t need anything crazy, but it’s nice to have a few props to make the photos a little more dynamic.
I set up a toy for Oliver to play with, an antique chair, and plant to make the photos look a little more homey than studio…y. But again, last year having just the chair for him to sit in added enough so don’t feel like you need to go crazy.
SHOOT STRAIGHT ON
Basically, be on your knees and keep your phone straight when taking the photos. It might be fun to try a few different angles, but there are so many factors to keep in mind when taking a good photo that I’ve found it’s easiest to just get on the same level as the subject of the photo and take straight on shots. You can get closer or go farther away, you can even go crazy with a bunch of different angles! Just make sure you get a few photos from a straight on perspective to keep it safe.
This is something I think about when getting their winter clothes. I just throw in a few casual items that I know will work well with a photo so that way I’m not spending extra money on an outfit they’ll wear once. Of course, I try to get the photo out of the way early so I don’t have to worry about the wear and tear that comes with a toddler wearing clothes for the rest of the season.
I like the more casual look for outfits. Something with holiday, fall, or winter colors in any style will work. PJ’s always make a really cute photo too. Then all you need to do is make your bed and throw your kids on it for a photo! (definitely an idea I’ll use next year)
WORK AROUND THEIR MOODS
Lighting is important, but a happy kiddo is crucial. Don’t try and take any photos too close to nap time or if they’re hungry. If they just want to play and hate everything that’s happening, take a break and then try again. Maybe try moving some of their toys to the scene you have set up and take some candid photos of them playing! Honestly, if you can’t get them to cooperate it may be worth it to try another day.
Whatever you do, don’t try and force them into taking photos if they are not into it or else all your photos will look like this:
HAVE A HELPER HANDY
Spouses, siblings, friends, parents, just someone to help you out.
Sometimes you’ll need a little help getting them set up or getting a really good, genuine laugh. It’s just nice to have some helping hands so you can be set up and ready to get a good shot without having to also make the funny faces and fix their clothes and put them in position and all that stuff that comes with trying to take a photo of a kid.
The only way we got the money shot was with my husband running back and forth while making our tiny dog play peek-a-boo from behind me. If anyone were to see that scene, I’m sure they may be a little worried for our sanity. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.
Either way, in the end we got some great photos of our boy that will be reminders of this hilarious experience we all shared.