I've been taking our own holiday card photos for as long as I can remember. There was one year that we had photos of the whole family taken professionally, but my husband and I have always been the amateur photographers behind every holiday card photo of just our children. I usually take individual portraits of each child and then some with all three together. This usually works out great and I can always find a card layout with four spots for photos to complement the pictures we've chosen.
Since I've been taking photos of our three children for nearly a decade, I have learned some tips and tricks along the way. Yes, taking photos of multiple children at once can closely resemble a game a whack-a-mole, but it can be done!
5 tips for taking holiday card photos of your children . . .
1. Become familiar with your camera's settings. You can take beautiful photos with a D-SLR or with your phone's camera. All cameras having different settings to accommodate for low light and other conditions. Experiment with them so you have an idea of which settings to use when it comes time to take portraits of your children. It's likely your children will get antsy if they have to wait for you to play with your camera settings during a photo shoot.
2. Dress your children comfortably. Whatever you choose to dress your children in, make sure that they are comfortable. Binding clothes, itchy tags, uncomfortable shoes, etc . . . all make the task of capturing a photo of a relaxed and happy child even more difficult. I always opt for casual outfits. The boys generally wear polo shirts or henleys. My daughter's clothes can vary from a casual dress to a blazer paired with jeans to the comfy New England Patriots top she wore this year. Regardless of what they wear, I try to color coordinate all three children's outfits. Having all three wear jeans on the bottom is an easy way to do that.
To guarantee a smile on my daughter's face for the photos, I always give my daughter something special to wear, such as a hat or a pretty necklace. This year, she was all smiles wearing her Spark high top sneakers from Chooze Shoes. She owns a few pairs of mismatched shoes from this brand and loves them all. Every pair she's owned has been super-comfortable and fun to wear!
3. Choose a simple background. Having to drive 10 miles to take photos does not sound like too much fun for kids. You really don't need a fancy background. We've taken beautiful photos of our children sitting on the front steps or huddled together in front of an evergreen tree. I do recommend taking your photos outdoors for the best light, but having your children sitting on your stairs, on your sofa, or in front of your fireplace together will also work. If you end up not loving the background in your photos, you can always blur the background with a photo editing program. There are many free programs online.
4. Get your children talking. When taking individual portraits, getting your children talking will help them loosen up. It also gets you some beautiful, natural smiles when they are telling you about something funny that happened in school last week (much better than the cheesy looking say-cheese smiles). The tween (pictured below) is a tough nut to crack because he is starting to act like he's too cool for holiday photos. Sometimes talking works with him, sometimes all I get is a mumble and a shrug, but all you can do is try . . .
5. Promise your children a silly shoot afterwards. This has worked amazingly well for us. It is so difficult to get all three children to be smiling, not blinking, and looking at the camera at the same time. Promising them a silly shoot (when you take photos of them dancing around, doing silly poses, and making goofy faces) in exchange for them holding it together long enough to get a good group photo really gets them to make an effort to give you that winning shot.
What tips do you have for taking great portraits of your children? Share your tips with us on Facebook!