On Saturday morning, we woke up early, got all dressed and headed out to meet Narci for our annual Christmas card photo session. On the way there, I told Andrew that this MUST be a Shade of Shay! Not a year goes by that I don’t drag my family out to some location, make them wear corresponding clothes and pose for a photographer. And I know I’m not the only mama out there doing it…you girls are too!
So…let’s talk about this Christmas card photo business together. And not just Christmas cards but any family photo session. As moms, we’re the ones that start planning months in advance…we hire the photographer, we pick the perfect date, we shop for the clothes, we lay them out and make sure everyone gets dressed to perfection, and we say “cheese” about one million times during each session…we’re family photo taking pros.
Before we get to my tips, ideas and suggestions, let’s take a look back at my family’s Christmas cards…
The front of 2012
The back of 2012
And of course, all of the cards were designed by Slightly Askew Designs :). Andrea has loads of card options and custom designs. You can also check out her personal cards on her family blog, Never Say Never (where today, she’s showing her own family’s Christmas cards).
Now, I’m no expert when it comes to family photo sessions but I do think I’ve learned a thing or two from my experiences and just from receiving cards every year…some pics stand out and some just don’t.
First, let’s talk about what you’re wearing…
1. The Monochromatic Look
I have fallen victim to this look before. There is a portrait hanging in my aunt’s house of my entire family wearing denim. It was probably taken in 1992 and not a single one of us looks good. That pic will never see the pages of this blog. We all match, the ladies all have huge, super teased hair, my uncle has this really thick mustache…it’s comical. I might be wearing overall shorts with a giant white scrunchie in my hair…but since you’ll never see that pic, you will never know for sure. The monochromatic look can work…just try to stay in the same color family and not necessarily the exact same fabric (i.e. denim). Here are some examples of what I like…
Greys and blacks look clean and chic together. Not everyone has to wear the same black shirt. The denim is all dark (you could totally put baby girl in dark denim too) and the tops all correspond without being too matchy matchy.
Here are some things that would work for this look…
Loft Boat Neck Sweater, Gap Sweater, Gap Black Skinny Jeans, Loft Moto Jacket Sweater
The best part about these items is that they are all closet staples!
This monochromatic look is orange…which is so fun and happy without you guys looking like a bunch of pumpkins. This screams fall!
Here are some really good orange examples…
That scarf was one I featured last week on my scarf post. You girls sent me the best feedback on it! Apparently, you are all as scarf happy as I am!
2. The Christmasy Look
This is the family photo session where you want people to know you’re celebrating Christmas. You’re wearing red, green and white and decked out in scarves, hats, and jackets…this look is just seasonal and fun. Personally, this might be my favorite kind of card to receive in the mail…it’s just festive.
Aren’t these guys cute?!?! I love how she has a touch of green mixed in with the red and white…I love the scarf, I love his vest, I love the layers…I love the whole look. They look Christmasy without looking like elves.
Here are some options to get this look…
I bought that red coat by the way…and oh my heavens! I will be wearing it all the time! Nothing elevates a dreary old winter look like a great coat!
I don’t know this cute little family but boy aren’t they Christmasy without being nauseating?! I love every single detail!
Here are a few things to complete this look…
And here are just some fun Christmasy looks I found for families that made me smile…
3. The Patterned Look
This is the look we go for every year. I
like love patterns. I try and find several patterns (tweeds, animal prints, stripes, polka dots, flannel) and pull a few of them together to create a cohesive look.
I want to be friends with this random lady. She gets me. She has her hubby in plaid, one boy in plaid, and her daughter in stripes. I totally love this outfit!
Um, hello a bunch of random prints that are pulled together nicely! This mom gets me too! They look cohesive and like a family unit without all wearing one dominant print. I totally dig this look!
Here are some of my very favorite prints and textures right now…go on…mix and match them :)…
My favorite leopard scarf (only $18!), Orange leopard scarf, Plaid Scarf, Striped Blazer, Plaid Moto Jacket (which also comes in black and grey), Camo Jeans, Houndstooth Sweater,
Now, my photographer friend Narci, posted these great tips on her blog about how to take your own family portraits. I love that a professional photographer is giving tips to us about taking our own pics! Click here to see her post on this. Narci also blogged about how to use your camera’s fancy settings. Praise the Lord! The settings always confuse me. Click here for that.
And finally…here are my tips for my family’s photo sessions…
1. Take pics early in the morning
I have learned that we do so much better in the morning…for so many reasons! First, the kids’ hair and clothes staying lookin’ good. With a girl especially, if we do pics in the morning, then I know her hair will stay at its best. I also like doing pics early in the morning because then it’s not hanging over our heads all day as something we have to do. Yes, it stinks to get up and dressed early but when it’s over, it’s over. And the later into the day we go, the more tired my family naturally is, so we get them in their most rested prime.
Pictures used to make me a sweaty, anxious mess. I wanted everyone looking good, I wanted everyone on their best behavior, I was tense, I was stressed…I was no fun. Then I learned to RELAX. Seriously…it’s just a picture. There was no reason for me to be a hot mess. If we’re being really real here…people will look at your Christmas card for a minute or two…maybe hang it up in their house during the season but then it will end up in the trash. And if you’re concerned about getting good pics for your house, remember this… you don’t want to always look at that family portrait and think, “Yeah, we’re smiling here but when that picture was actually taken, I had yelled at hubby, spanked little boy and told little girl she was going to time out when we get home”. You want to look at that picture and think, “Yeah, that was a really good day.”. The mom sets the tone for the day…be relaxed.
3. Don’t over-think things!
Are you all there? Is everyone dressed? Is the camera charged? If so, then you’re good to go. Don’t over-think things. Sometimes, I get a card in the mail and I can just tell…they totally over-thought things. It’s not natural, it’s too forced, there are too many odd props, mom looks stressed…over-thought.
And for grins…a few more card ideas…
Now, if this puts you in the Christmas spirit today, make sure you’re following me on Pinterest! I have so much Christmas cheer going on over there that it will make you excited! (Plus, I still have a lot of Halloween and Thanksgiving cheer too!). And don’t forget Face Book too! You just never know what I’ll post on there :).
Dinner tonight is Chipolte Beef Chili…
Yummy! Have a great day!!