I was happy to finish my photos for our family Christmas card during Fall break in October. I still haven’t decided exactly which photo I will use, but I thought it would be fun to share a few things I have found helpful for a successful shoot.
1. Go somewhere beautiful and/or fun for your shoot. When we lived in Centerville, it was tradition to visit Mueller Park in Bountiful. Now that we are in Utah county, we chose the Alpine Loop. It was gorgeous. Being an AZ girl, I LOVE fall foliage and the loop had so much – everywhere you looked… We also got some great shots at the American Fork Ampitheater.
2. Feed the photographed. Seriously – you may laugh but when you are dealing with your kids and a photo session, sometimes we spend so much time rushing to get everyone ready that we forget to feed them. So I always bring along the kids favorite non-messy snacks or even stop along the way to grab their favorite fast food. This year we packed a picnic of their favorites – which we had great surroundings to enjoy it in. I also try to get them to go more on the protein and fruit than the sugar and carbs – they are just happier people when we do that. I then end the session with their favorite treat – i.e. Frosties at Wendy’s.
3. Make an Afternoon or Morning of it – seriously – the more relaxed your photo shoot is, the better and more candid shots you will get. When working with six kids, I will grab a few group shots first thing and then focus on each kid individually while the others take some time to explore our surroundings – this makes for some great fun. I also will let the kids call some of the shots – asking them where they want to take their individual images or what ideas they have for a group shot… Below is a tree my daughter found while hiking in the woods and wanted her photo taken by it…
Which eventually led to this shot -
and this shot for Jessica -
I also was very happy and surprised to get this photo of my daughter who usually hates having her photo taken – she actually asked for a photo by this tree -
4. Make it fun – mix the crazy with the serious – the elegant with the informal – etc. To keep the flow going, do a lot of fun and crazy shots in the mix to let your kids get their wiggles out – some of my favorite shots come from just letting the kids be crazy and letting their personalities shine -
5. Pretend you aren’t looking and shoot – I love taking my kids somewhere we will hike because it means I will get fun images of all of them walking down a path – seriously – my kids will often have an idea but forget they are on camera as they walk… these types of images also tell a lot about their personalities and sibling dynamics…
6. End it on a fun note – in addition to Frosties at Wendy’s, I often try to find a notable parting shot – one year it was my son Joseph’s face as he told me he was DONE taking photos and all his siblings laughed, this year it was the stop sign at the end of our hike right before we piled in the car. My kids’ favorite shots are often the last of the shoot – the fact that they get to act out how tired they are of taking photos and note that they survived another year…
7. Color it with clothing – this last tip is completely optional – but it is something that helps my kids really look forward to our photo shoot each year. I often buy them color coordinating sweaters/shirts so they go together and the focus is on their faces. Most years I have gone with a brown color scheme and this year I decided to do a grey/black/pink scheme with jeans. The girls have a lot of fun helping me to choose what everyone will wear which adds to their excitement.
Looking back at this year’s shoot, if I could have done one thing to improve it, I would have gotten the kids up earlier or gone later so the sun wasn’t so bright – the first rule of photography was broken this year – but we still had a great time!
Whatever you do, make the experience fun – don’t stress about all the technical stuff, focus on making memories with your kids and this will become a family tradition they won’t want to miss!