One Christmas tradition that I have been doing every year without fail since the boys were babies, is the personalised photo Christmas cards we send out to friends and family in December.
We printed this year’s Christmas photo card with Snapfish, and I am so pleased with the bright, vibrant quality of the print. Snapfish are offering my readers 40% off sitewide through to the 31st December, 2018, using this code: SANTA40
Getting a Christmas card photo of the kids involves forward planning, and some years it has proved challenging to get a decent shot. But along the way I’ve honed our Christmas card photo-taking routine and learnt a lot about how to do it in the least stressful way.
Here are my top tips for getting a great photo of your kids to put on your Christmas cards:
Take the shot from above. 99% of my most simple yet favourite shots of my children have been taken from above, with them lying down.
Not only does this pose works best for young babies with their older siblings, but it’s a brilliant way to keep the focus on expressions without the need for a complex backdrop. The ‘scene’ can be set in 2 minutes flat, using a festive blanket, floorboards, or – the simplest of all – have your children lie on your bed with a plain white sheet as the backdrop.
Following on from the point above, my next tip is to keep the ‘set’ as simple as possible. Countless times, I have got carried away with ideas to rig up fairy lights for an amazing bokeh background, or I’ve been tempted to spend unnecessary money on all sorts of festive props. But not only do these complicated backdrops take a lot of time to set up, it almost always leads to more pressure on myself and the kids to behave and get a good shot.
When the pressure is high, we all feel it, and generally, the result is that no one wants to play ball and I end up grumpy that my efforts have been dashed. Over the years, I’ve learnt that the faster I can set up the shot, the better for everyone. It means I can catch the children when they are in the right mood. And if it doesn’t work, we can try again another time because it doesn’t take hours to set up.
Keep it fun. And quick. There was a time when my children would flat out refuse to pose for photos. But in recent years, I’ve noticed that they are much happier to take a few minutes for a picture. They’ve regained their faith in me because I started sticking to these two rules – if it’s not fun, or if someone isn’t happy, we stop. And I don’t push it with time, either. No more ‘Just one more shot’ or ‘Can we do that again’. The strict (short!) time limit means the kids trust that they haven’t unwittingly agreed to something which is longer and much more of a hassle than they first realised.
Get someone else to take the photo. If you DO want an amazing festive backdrop, you doubt your own abilities behind the camera, or you are just too busy, book a photographer to take your Christmas card photo. Lots of family photographers will create a lovely Christmas backdrop and offer mini Christmas shoots – ask around on your local Facebook groups. I used a photographer one year when I just knew I didn’t have the time or energy to create our own Christmas card photo – leaving it to the professionals took such a load off!
Let them be themselves. In your head, you were aiming for pinterest-worthy serene smiling adorable faces, but in reality you got weird goofy expressions. I’ve taken some jackpot shots of my children, images that wouldn’t go amiss amongst the picture perfect offerings on Pinterest. But those don’t tend to be the photos that I look back on. The shots I treasure are the ones where I can recognise their individual personalities immediately. The ones where they are doing their own thing, not complying to the image of them in my head that I originally wanted to take.
They don’t have to look at the camera. One of THE biggest challenges when trying to take photos of young children is to get them all looking into the camera, with a nice expression. My tip? Just don’t bother trying. I find sibling photos actually have a far better connection when the children are looking at / interacting with each other.
It’s a bonus if I DO find myself with a shot where they are all looking at the camera, but I no longer try to get that shot – my main aim is just to capture happy expressions.
Take your Christmas card photo early. I always take ours in November. It means I’m less stressed about the whole thing entirely, as we have tons of time for a do-over if the first attempt doesn’t pan out. And it gives plenty of time to create, order and write the cards, without having to pay for rush printing and delivery.
The photo itself doesn’t have to be especially Christmassy. For this year’s photo, keeping with my ‘less is more’ mantra, we used a hint of Christmas colours in the blanket, but did not use any overtly Christmassy props. Instead, opting for Snapfish’s festive text overlays to add that Christmas feel.
For more festive embellishment options, check out Snapfish’s full range of personalised photo Christmas cards here.
Above all else, if you stick to the two main rules of keeping it fun and keeping it easy to set up, you’ll have a stress free time and your children’s personalities will shine through in the results.