Photo Tips for a Happy Holiday Card!

At White Oaks Ranch photograph by Kelsey Foster Wilson
Six years ago, I did a post on tips for taking a family picture for your Christmas Card.  I revisit them every year about this time and I thought I should share them with you again – but with a few more lessons added in from experience over the years!  
In 2010,  I turned to Kady Dunlap, a professional photographer who has certainly captured her fair share of precious kids, for some tips!
She gave me some great recommendations:
1. Kady said: Orient your session around your children’s happiest time of day! Pick a time when they are most alert therefore more willing to co-operate.
What I’ve learned since I first posted this is that this can be super tricky and vary from week to week!  As the mother of a three year old girl, I’ve learned that dramatic meltdowns can happen at any time of day! Evidence of this is above in Millie’s soccer photo from last Saturday morning at 8:30AM!  I try to make sure that the children are well fed and rested before photos but you just can’t pic a perfect time.  I also try to make sure they know that something exciting is coming later in the day as a reward for good behavior during the photo session!
2. Kady said: Be sure that your clothing selections are both simple (no crazy patterns or busy prints) and comfortable for you child to wear. Itchy or scratchy clothing will cause them to squirm.
Photo by John Cain Sargent
3. Kady said: Be sure your photo style is a match for your everyday lifestyle. Enlist a professional who works in your style casual and comfortable or posed and formal.
What I’ve learned since then is that it is nice to mix this up over the years!  One year I put them in formals and the next year at the beach!  I like to have a variety of styles which, I guess, is a bit like our lifestyle! 
4. Kady said: Location is everything. Select a location that is familiar to your children. At home, the park, your favorite location will make your kids feel more at ease.
Photo by Heather Lynch
So true! Above is one of my favorites pictures from a join session I did with my sister’s children at the beach last summer!  I love this shot!!!  We just let them play and the talented Heather Lynch caught these fantastic informal shots. Last year, we had all the kids dressed in velvet and tartan so this is fun casual change! 

Photos by Heather Lynch
5. Kady said: Attitude is everything! Always be relaxed and flexible around kids even if they are rambunctious or not co-operating. When you have a professional photographer, be willing to leave the scene if necessary! Often the kids will behave better if the parents are not around.  
What I learned since then: this is soooooo true!  That was the case in the photo above!  We could not get the four little ones to sit still together for a picture so the grown-ups hid away, the photographer turned on some music and started snapping them individually as they played.  It was magic!  She made us this collage of the four of them so we have a shot of all of them together!
I’ve collected a few of my favorite holiday photo cards below!  I’m having a hard time making up my mind!
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