‘Tis the Season for Smiles

Hi, friends!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a freelance photographer and have been for the past six years. (View my online portfolio here.) Each holiday season I get to photograph many different holiday portraits and have learned a few tips along the way. Holiday portraits are a big thing for many families, so I wanted to share a few of the tips I’ve learned over years with all of you!

Some people think holiday portrait sessions are as simple as showing up and smiling for a few minutes, but it’s so much more than that! There is a lot of planning that you and your photographer go through to make your session happen.

Here are some things to consider before your session:

-Start your research EARLY
Holiday sessions tend to book quickly, so contact your photographer(s) early! I’ve had people book their session as early as September to ensure they can get the day and time that they want. The last thing you want is to find a photographer you like, but can’t schedule for the one day you were set on because they’re fully booked.

-Find a photographer you like
If you don’t have a family photographer, ask around or do your own internet search to find photographers in your area. Read their reviews and testimonials, look through their online portfolio, and read their “About Me” page to get to know who you might be hiring. Email or call the photographer(s) you’re interested in, and figure out who will be the best fit for you.

-Figure out the details
How many people will be a part of your session? Are there any infants/toddlers/kids? Will you be bringing the family pet? Do you want your backdrop to be on location (outdoors) or in studio?
It makes things so much easier for you and your photographer if you are able to share whatever details you know when you’re booking a session. If you don’t have all the details, it’s okay! Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions.

-Prices
Find a photographer or studio that is within your budget. You don’t have to break your bank account for your holiday photos. Many photographers and studios, including myself, create holiday session promotions or package deals (photo session with greeting card designs and prints) that will help you save some extra money for Christmas gifts.
I’ve had people ask me why different photographers have such different prices, most times, the answer is simple: “You get what you pay for.” Saving money is important, but also keep in mind that your payment is/*should be an investment for the quality of work you receive.
(*Always be sure to view their work before making any investment!)

-Outfits
Everyone doesn’t need to wear the exact same thing. Picking outfits based on the same color palette works great as well, and it allows each person show a bit of their own unique style through their outfit. You also want to make sure that everyone is comfortable in what they’re wearing, especially the little ones.

-Props
Some photographers, like myself, have their own set of props. I bring the props I collected one year for a holiday themed photo booth, just in case my clients want to take a few silly photos before we wrap up.
If you have your own props that you want to bring, maybe to show something special (engagement announcement, pregnancy announcement, gender reveal, etc.) let your photographer know, so they can plan ahead and capture the moments you want to share.

Now that the planning is done, make sure you’re prepared on the big day!

Here are things to consider the day of your session:

-Snacks, snacks, snacks!
I’ve done family photo sessions which included a  few young children and toddlers, and have seen a few families bring some snacks (nothing too messy, of course) for the kids, to give them a little energy boost during their session.

-Extra or backup outfits
I’ve had many families (mostly those with toddlers) who have a “just in case” mentality, and pack extra outfits. Another thing I’ve seen people do is have the little ones change into their outfit when they arrive to the location/studio, to save the trouble of cleaning up whatever mess the little ones make during the car ride.

-Triple and quadruple check!
Be sure you have everything you need before leaving the house. I’ve had families realize they forgot the prop they wanted to bring at home when we were half way through their session. Granted, they still enjoyed their photos, but they wished they hadn’t forgot their special prop.

Last but not least… HAVE FUN!
Natural smiles photograph so much better than forced smiles. Each photographer has their own style of shooting and making people smile, but remember, you know your family better than your photographer does. I’ve had families where the mom or dad had a set of jokes prepared to make the kids laugh right before I snap the photo. As a photographer, it’s always an amazing thing to be able to capture everyone’s genuine smiles

These tips may not apply or work for everyone and I’m sure others may have different or many more tips, but I hope these have helped you prepare for your holiday portraits, even in the smallest way.

Enjoy taking your holiday portraits!
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