This is a special time full of tradition and family moments. Don’t just fill your phone with more so-so photos—create photographs as special as this season with these five tips!
1) Stand next to the tree, not in front of it.
When you shoot with the tree in the background there’s no chance for the soft warm glow you love to fall on the people in the photo, so the mood of the tree light is lost.
For better light, a better composition, and (most importantly!) a great expression from your kids, have them stand next to the tree so that soft glow is on their face. This works easily for 1 to 3 people. Maybe ask a child to pick out a favorite ornament. Ask why it’s a favorite. If you have a baby this is all the easier, as you can hold her next to something shiny. Whether she smiles or is in awe or pensive, it will be a great photo.
2) Turn the lens on your traditions.
Your family has your own unique traditions—the best memory-filled photos will be unique to you.
Are you using your great grandmother’s menorah? Make sure all or most of it is in frame for candle lighting photos.
Do you walk to church on Christmas Eve? Take photos on the walk!
Do you make a certain meal? Photograph the kids helping to make it.
Include little details specific to your family—these items and rituals will become iconic in your kids’ memories of their childhood and so these photos will be treasures for years to come.
3) NEVER say “smile.”
You know that saying “smile” doesn’t get a sincere smile. And yet when you can’t think of what else to say you do it.
Once you your kid is in a workable situation (there’s light, they are in the frame, the camera can focus), the trick is to say something silly and unexpected. You’ll get a reaction and expression that makes the photo!
My favorite seasonal option—if you don’t consider it too uncouth—is “Santa farts.” You smiled, right? Yeah, now try it on your first-grader. Be warned she might say it all day.
4) Hide and seek.
This one works all year long in almost any location!
Start a game of hide-and-go-seek, kids hiding first. Look for them with your camera out. Give a loud happy shout when you find them, and shoot the reactions and expressions that unfold.
And finally, and most importantly, if you do nothing else differently this year…
5) BE IN PHOTOS!
For many parents the last thing we ever want is to be in a photo; we’re so focused on making kids happy that we might only be halfway dressed with uncombed hair.
But if you can do one thing to make your holiday photos of your kids be more meaningful, it is to be in them.
Sidenote: I don’t mean selfies. Take a moment to give your camera to someone else. The photo will feel more natural and this frees up your hands to tickle or bounce your child into a real smile. Better yet, ask someone to take a candid photo while you’re playing or talking with your kid.
Think about it: when you look back at your childhood photos you’re just as interested, or maybe even more interested, in seeing your parents. Let your kids see the loving look in your eyes—after all, that’s what the holidays are all about.
P.S. Many of you have kindly been checking in our family since reading the story of our son’s premature birth. He’s doing fabulously and is excited about Christmas, as you can see. 🙂
The Inner Life Portraits approach means there’s no photo shoot to schedule; instead, I tag along on the family outing your kids are craving. Learn more>>