Take Perfect Holiday Photos
It’s that time of the year when families start thinking about the holidays, and with that comes the annual holiday card. Whether you prefer a professional experience or are more of a DIY kind of family, here are a few tips from an award-winning Bay Area family photographer for making the most of your experience.
1. Choose the perfect location!
Think through what your ideal holiday cards will look like and then think about the location for your photos. Are you wanting something more holiday themed with a Christmas tree or decorations? Or do you prefer to combine your annual photos and holiday card photos in one?
If you want themed photos, you can look for themed mini sessions offered by a local photographer, or take your own photos in front of your tree once it’s set up. If you’re doing the latter, lighting is important so try setting your tree up in a spot that gets great natural light.
If you’re more of an outdoorsy family, think about the setting for your photos. We live in a diverse area of the country, and the beach, redwoods or rolling fields are all great choices. Try to plan to take your photos at the golden hour (the hour before sunset) for the most flattering lighting situation.
2. Think about your wardrobe.
Whether you’re hiring a photographer or choosing a more DIY approach, putting a little thought into your family’s wardrobe can make all the difference. Photos look best when families are coordinated but not super matchy. I offer my clients free access to an online styling service, but you could also hire a stylist or use Pinterest to search “Family Photo Styling” if you’re trying to minimize your expenses.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid big logos, cartoon characters, neon and plaid on more than one person. I personally love bold color and mixed prints, but keep your wardrobe choices true to your family since you want to actually look like yourselves in the photos!
3. Don’t wait until the last minute!
If you plan on hiring a photographer, know that this is their busy season and it might be tough to find one in your price range with openings. We photographers tend to start filling our fall schedule starting at the end of summer so the longer you wait, the harder it is to snag a spot.
If you’re doing your own photos and want to order holiday cards, keep in mind that a lot of card companies have cut-off dates to get your cards in time for holiday mailing. Try to get your photos done before the end of November so you have time to pick your favorites and order cards.
4. Do get all lovey dovey.
Be ready to throw your inhibition to the wind and get all up in each others’ personal spaces! The best photos happen when families are ready to get close, so do whatever it takes to loosen up and enjoy each other’s company. Trust me, I know it’s awkward to have a camera pointed at you (I feel this deeply when my family has our own photos done!) but your photos will be so so great if you can ignore that weird feeling and just remember how much you love those people next to you!
5. Learn to use your self-timer.
Pretty much every phone with a camera nowadays has a self-timer function, but if you’re using your own camera it might be trickier to figure out. If you can’t find your camera manual, Google will usually come to the rescue, but it can be tricky to find the right setting so don’t leave your research until the last minute.
The day before you’re planning to take your photos, pull out your camera and get things set up so you’ll know what to do when it’s go time. If your camera is lacking a self-timer option, get your camera settings like you want them and enlist the help of a friend to click the shutter. Have them click a series of photos so you have a bunch of options from which to choose.
Maryam Salassi is a newborn and family photographer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, 8-year-old daughter and 12-year-old pup. She has been photographing all kinds of fun and adventurous families for more than eight years, and has been published in several national magazines. Salassi was recognized by Bay Area Parent readers as one of the region’s top family photographers in our annual Best of the Best issue in 2018 and 2019. Learn more at hiandhellophotography.com.