I know many of you are gearing up for your annual Christmas card photos. And while it’s an exciting time to get the family together and capture a special memory or milestone, it can also be a source of stress. What to wear, finding a photographer and scheduling are all questions that pop up when trying to plan for family photos. I posted our first family Christmas Cards a couple weeks ago and had some requests to share outfit suggestions, color palettes and little ways to make this process “easier”.
Besides when George was born, this was our first family photo shoot. And to be honest — I was pretty anxious. It was unseasonably hot on this particular day and it was right in the middle of nap time. But we had to be flexible and make it work. So here’s what we did to prep and eliminate any extra stress. And guess what…it helped!
1. Browse card templates FIRST
I looked on Vistaprint and Pinterest to get inspiration before picking out our outfits, color palette, and location. Vistaprint had a ton of templates to sort through which made it easy to get a vibe for the look and feel I wanted for our cards. It was clear that I wanted something simple and not too busy. I didn’t want borders or additional designs on the cards. And after getting a vision for the card design I planned to order, it made it easy planning our outfits and deciding on a location. We kept it pretty simple and I love how they turned out.
2. Decide on a color palette for a cohesive vibe
If you want things to feel cohesive, your outfits need to complement each other. After I found a few card templates that I wanted to use, it was obvious I wanted a natural, earthy vibe. I knew it would make the most sense to do it in a nearby field in the late afternoon. I then started to research color palettes that complemented green and tan. I wanted to wear a cream dress (other options here, here and here) and the boys to wear shades of brown. Austin wore this shirt (these are really nice and thick for winter — not too bulky though, we also liked this one too). George wore this monogram jon jon with this collared onesie underneath (this is a great staple — I bought it in 2 more sizes he can wear later on). I loved how it felt earthy, neutral, and not too forced. We are pretty casual, so I wanted our cards to feel comfortable and relaxed.
3. Communicate with you photographer (how to articulate what you want)
I’ve worked with several photographers over the years and something that I’ve learned is that communication before the day-of is always best. A few have even gone as far as requesting a shot list or vision board and I have found those to have always been the most successful projects.
You may not need to go through these lengths for a family photo shoot, but it could certainly help assure that everyone gets the photo they want. I would, at the very least, pull together a small list of photos you want out of the photoshoot: mom and dad, baby and mom close up, whole family vertical shot and horizontal. Be specific.
I selected my card templates and shared those with Danielle a few days before our shoot. She said it made it really easy for her to know exactly how to shoot our photos and gave her a good idea of what we wanted to use them for. By talking about this upfront, it was pretty certain we would get a layout that we wanted.
4. Be Prepared (or at least try to be)
Like I said, this photoshoot was not necessarily at the ideal time of day, but it was our only option. It was 93 degrees, during nap time and the bugs were out of control. Of course I didn’t know what to expect, but I did bring a mini fan which came in handy for George, prepared a backup bottle and had some toys to keep George entertained if needed. He’s really big on crinkle paper these days and this can keep him entertained for a good 20 minutes if needed. Which is big if you are avoiding a meltdown. We had waters for the adults and packed the car with the props the day before our shoot so we didn’t forget anything. We also tried to arrive early. It’s just better for everyone if you can be there a little early so you don’t feel rushed.
5. Have fun with it
Above all, have fun with it. Be thankful for this special time and remember that no matter how these photos turn out, there is bound to be ONE good one. Honestly, George didn’t end up smiling in one single photo. We got a smirk in the one where Austin is lifting him, but that was it. We just laughed it off and didn’t let that ruin our photos. This was still a special memory for us and if he didn’t smile, no big deal. The more easy-going you can be, the better (at least that’s what we kept telling ourselves, ha!).
Share your tips below so we can learn from you! xx Ashley
images by Dani Sabol