Tuesday, November 11, 2014

DIY Christmas Card Family Photos

Last Christmas was I think the first year since Matt and I have been married that I did not send any Christmas cards out. I was almost 9 months pregnant, exhausted and stressed and just decided cards were an easy thing to cut from my holiday to-do list to make life easier. The funny thing was, it really bummed me out not sending anything out last year, not because I think Christmas cards are all that important but because they've always been something I've really enjoyed doing every year.

After missing out on the fun last year, I made getting cards done this year a priority. I wrangled my family of 5 into somewhat-coordinating plaid outfits and coerced them to accompany me to a local farm on an unusually warm November day to take family pictures. 

We're do-it-ourselves kind of people, so we knew we wanted to take our own pictures and save the expense of hiring a photographer. I just set all the settings on my dSLR for my sister and coached her on taking the pictures. It wasn't the easiest set-up but it worked out well in the end! (You did a great job Grace!)

We personalized and ordered our cards from Tiny Prints this year, and we couldn't be happier with the printed results! 

Getting pleasant pictures of three children under 5 years old together is no easy feat. Some tips I would recommend if you are a do-it-yourself photographer like me:

-Make sure the little ones are well rested and fed! Also, pack a special treat to use as a motivator for following directions and being patient. (M&Ms are great for this!) 

-After dinner, around sunset, is a great time to plan for outdoor family photos. The lighting is ideal!

-Try not to think "matching" outfits, but rather "complimentary" colors/patterns etc. Your pictures will look more natural and relaxed.

-Trying to get children to pose is often exhausting and fruitless. Aim for happy candid shots by making the shoot fun! When our kids started getting crabby we made a game out of throwing leaves into the air and ended up getting our favorite shots that way! Incorporate fun props, do a human pyramid, play ring-around-the-rosie - I promise everyone will look happy and animated in your photos. Photos that tell a story are always more interesting than posed portraits.

-Get "perfection" out of your head before you even start. Life with young children is unavoidably crazy and messy and it's ok for your photos to reflect a bit of that honest, beautiful chaos. Remember, this is a special, short lived season of life - embrace it and just go with the flow!

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