Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Photo Sessions with Kids, Tips, Tricks & Tiny Prints Photo Cards!

Kids, Holiday Photographs & Tiny Prints

With Christmas & New Years Eve right around the corner I wanted to share with you some of my tips, tricks & advice for photographing your own children for the purpose of holiday cards or other photo related gifts. I'm going to share with you some of the photos I've captured of our crew as well as some of Tiny Prints amazing holiday cards that you can use to take your photo & turn it into something wonderful & memorable to send to your loved ones. 
As I've mentioned before I have been a fan of Tiny Prints & Wedding Paper Divas for a long time. Tiny Prints had an amazing selection of fall & Thanksgiving themed cards that inspired me to take my camera, my kids & a beautiful fall day & capture this...

 All it took to snap that photo was a sunny fall afternoon, 3 well rested & fed kids, some outfits we already had, my camera, lots of patience & even more caffeine. I took about 300 pictures that day & out of those there were about 50 I felt happy with, 10 I could choose from for the purpose of our cards, & this 1 photograph fit the best with the card I loved! 

Of course Thanksgiving has come & gone. Mother Nature has spoken & the mall Santa's have arrived making it the prime time for holiday themed pictures & the perfect time to send out a Holiday or Christmas Photo Card from Tiny Prints. 
Before you can select a card to work with, you need some photographs & while the idea of taking your own pictures may seem frightening & overwhelming, it is something anyone with a camera can do! Plus, if you have been having your photos professionally taken this could save you some $$$ for booking future bigger family shoots with your favorite photographer. ;) 

1.) Plan ahead. If you are wanting to capture the majority or all of your photos outside, pay attention to weather forecasts. I had intended on taking all of our photos outside, then it was -2* & then it rained for a week & now the snow looks awful. So, I had to change gears & photograph inside in front of our Christmas tree. Even if you plan ahead, prepare to have to be flexible & accommodate some factors that are out of your control. Now, some things you can certainly control...
This was one of four decent photos I was able to capture outside. I took this in our front yard & the kids were such troopers because it was below zero!
2.) Select a color palette. At first I wanted everything to be black, white, silvery & sparkly. It didn't work out(I'm saving hope for New Years photos). For our Christmas pictures I went back to the drawing board & after a trip to Target I had decided to go with a holiday I accented with black & some touches of sparkle for the girls. 
3.  Learn how to use your camera. This is especially crucial if you are a novice photographer like I am. I shoot with a Canon Rebel t3i with the stock lens. In order to take these pictures I did some online research & took notes on what settings would be ideal for capturing the best pictures I possibly could. If you do not have a powerhouse dSLR camera just use what you do have or borrow a camera from someone you know. For the purpose of Christmas Cards you could even make an iPhone photo with some filters work! 
4. Select your backdrop. Now there are hundreds of ideas for a background setting & I'm betting that so many of you are way more creative than I am & can come up with something much more spectacular than an Alaskan Christmas tree! If you are going to be using lots of lights like I did, refer to tip #3 & make sure you research what settings are ideal. Do the same if you are going to venture outside for your little photo session.

5. Making your kids smile & laugh. The reason I firmly believe in taking my kids pictures myself, is because I know what to do or say to make them laugh. There isn't a photographer telling them to say cheese & they are comfortable being themselves with me. For the Be Merry card above, I was burping. Yes, burping, while it is frowned upon in social circles & around our dinner table, it always makes the kids laugh. You want to capture authentic smiles & laughter, not forced posed moments. The card above was me asking the kids to make some cute faces. While I think they look adorable there isn't nearly enough glee or joy on their faces! Figure out the best way to make your kids truly laugh & then be ready to capture the moment. :) 

6. Timing. If you have younger children who have a nap-time plan to shoot your photos at a time when they are well rested. I wouldn't recommend taking pictures an hour before when they are supposed to be napping. I have found that our best pictures happen after breakfast, usually we have to break for a snack in the middle of our session & then I can capture some more adorableness. 

 7. Brace yourself for imperfections. Due to the settings I needed to use to be able to shoot pictures directly in front of the Christmas tree there were quite a few semi-blurry pictures, slightly blurry pictures, & each of the kids had some bloopers from closed eyes to tongues sticking out. Taking pictures of your own kids is tricky, it will probably take a couple photo-shoots for you to find a rhythm that works for all of you. Allow yourself some time to edit the pictures you love & don't be afraid to delete the ones you don't. The worst thing that can happen is that your first attempt is a total failure. If that happens, take a deep breath & plan to take some more pictures another day. 
8. Have Fun! Allow your self to relax & just have fun capturing these memories! The more relaxed you are, the better your pictures will be. Your kids can probably sense your tension & frustration, so find a way to keep things light & filled with holiday spirit. We listened to the soundtrack to Disney's Frozen during our session & I allowed the kids frequent breaks to get up & get their wiggles out. If you are feeling really brave set yourself up with some artificial snow & let the kids throw it around for some really fun pictures! While it will probably leave your space a bit of a mess you will have some amazing pictures captured & your kids will have had fun taking pictures! 

9. Pick your card(s)! I had the hardest time selecting just 1 card to send to our loved ones. Tiny Prints has such a beautiful selection of cards, from simple & understated to sparkly & chic there is something for everyone. There are multiple editing options as well as a variety of layouts to choose from on just about every card. :)
 For those of you that are receiving a Leader Family Christmas Card this year it is among this selection I've featured. The pictures are just mixed up on other cards so I'm not giving everything away.

I'm going to show you some of the other wonderful holiday items Tiny Prints has this season. So if Christmas Cards are not for you, there is still something to suit your holiday spirit. 

1. Personalized Holiday Gift Tag Stickers 
Glitter & Glee Personalized Gift Tag Sticker

2. Holiday Invitations 
 Whether you are hosting a Christmas Party or a New Years Eve Bash, Tiny Prints has a beautiful variety of cards for you to choose from! 

3. Easel Art. 5x7 Glossy Easel Art. Christmas Countdown, Dry Erase Board
 I just love this picture of Danielle & her favorite snowman head ornament! This easel stands up & would be an adorable gift to give to a kid so that they can count down to Christmas next year. 

4. Personalized Mugs. 
 If you have a coffee drinker or a tea lover on your gift list, check out Tiny Prints selection of customizable/personalized mugs. This option doesn't feature any photographs, but you guys know I can't pass up anything that has some sort of chalkboard-texture on it & I love a good monogram! There are tons of other choices of mugs that allow you to add a selection of photographs & more vibrant colors. Most of the mugs you can choose between black or white, 11oz or 15oz. :) 

5.Thank-You Cards. 
 After the holidays has passed it is always polite to send out a little Thank-You card to those who helped make your celebrations a little more festive. This is my favorite one from Tiny Prints collection this year. Can you guys tell that I'm loving everything gold, sparkly & shiny this season? Or any season...haha! 

You can find everything I've featured from Tiny Prints here.

I hope that this post helped those of you who are planning to take your own holiday card photos this year & that it inspired some of you to pick up a camera & hold your own mini-family photo session. Like I mentioned above, I'm a total novice when it comes to photography. I have 2 semesters of high-school photography class under my belt & lots of hours spent behind the camera capturing our family's special moments. If you have any, tips, tricks or advice to share please do so! :) 

Of course I had to share with all of you the photos that just didn't make the cut this year. :)

 as always, love from alaska