It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start with family photos. There are so many options out there. Studio, outdoor, candid, posed. So here are a few things I have found that make it easier and more manageable to make family photos an annual thing without adding any stress to an already busy time of year.
1. Browse and decide what you want. Like I already mentioned, there are so many different styles of photos. Start by browsing Pinterest to see which seems to suit you and your family best. Outdoor, candid photos seem to be the most popular these days and my personal favorites. They feel so much more relaxed and real and allow for some fun to shine through.
2. Search for photographers in your area. Once you have nailed down which style of photos you want, it's time to find a photographer who can accommodate you. Many photographers offer mini sessions this time of year. Sometimes they have a set day and time scheduled for these along with a specific location. Others may be more flexible with your schedule and location preference. Once you pick a photographer, communicate openly with them about what you are looking for ahead of time. Be sure this is a person you feel comfortable around.
We have been lucky to have an amazing friend, who happens to be an amazing photographer, take our photos each year. He has found incredible outdoor locations each time and let's us know what time of day will have the best light for our photos. It's so nice to have complete confidence in his ability.
3. Find clothes for everyone to wear. This feels like the most overwhelming part some years. I like to find coordinating outfits for our family, but not too matchy matchy, a la 90's everyone in jeans and black shirts.
Mamas, I say start with you. It's rare that we get to feel put together and pretty and photos is one time you definitely want to be confident in how you look. Take this one chance to not be covered in spit up; Shine. Pick something you love and are excited to wear. Look at the colors you chose and find something in your kiddos closets (or at the store) that will go along. I always save my husband for last A. because he could care less and B. because his closet is full of neutrals and I make sure he rounds out the coordination without being overwhelming.
Since it is the holidays and a little chillier than other times I love to add layers for some depth. Vests, cardigans, scarves, etc. Little touches to make it feel more complete and fun.
4. Get ready, bribe, and let it go. I say regardless of what time of day it is, make sure everyone has eaten before you attempt photos. This helps to ensure less of the grumpys, especially in your kiddos.
Post-food time is get ready time. I get my makeup and hair done and then get my two boys ready WITHOUT my photo outfit on to make sure they don't slime me. Once everyone is ready, I get dressed and off we go.
I sometimes bring candy as a bribe, but because I don't want them to eat it during photos, we usually stick to a promise of something right after photos for a few good smiles. In all honesty, it may not always work. This year, our 20-month old was not having it. Running in all directions, having meltdowns and being almost-two in general. But, we managed to get some great shots so we just let it go, trusted our photographer, and laughed about how this is real life.
5. Order Christmas cards and print for presents. Getting your photos back is the fun part. They have exceeded my expectations every year. And it's fun to see how they turned out.
I start with Christmas cards. The prettiest and easiest way to reach all your family and friends. Tiny Prints has gorgeous foil-stamped options and fun extras, like envelope liners to add some personality to the mix. Living in a military community means we have friends constantly moving so I love having the ability to share our growing family with them each year as we are spread far and wide.
I also print several photos in 5x7 to give to grandparents and great-grandparents as presents. They love to have updated ones to fill their walls with each year. Find some fun frames to polish them off.
* Family photography credit to Greyside Photography
* Christmas cards were provided by Tiny Prints.