Taking family Christmas photos

Oh my word do we struggle with a Christmas card. Anyone with children can relate I’m sure but when you have four kids, especially when a few are in that awkward fake smile phase it gets interesting really quickly. When you add in an old, tired dog, and then decide this is a good year for mom and dad to hop back in – well, you can probably guess how that goes.

On top of all of that, we decided not to hire a professional photographer. Praise God we have talented friends who are willing to humor us and pull off a photo worth sharing. But oh man we were not easy subjects.I’m showing a few outtakes below but I thought I’d also share some tips in case you haven’t taken your pictures yet.

Find Cohesion  – It is really important to have a common theme to pull your look together. Creating a color story is an excellent way to do this, as long as you don’t try too hard. If you are too matchy, matchy  (everyone wears a white button down and some type of khaki bottoms) it can look little contrived, but if you have a color theme (shades of complementing blues, for example) you will coordinate well  – The goal is to make it easy on the eyes but not look like a team in a uniform. Oh, and try to make sure you match your dog too, if you can. (KIDDING!!! It was a funny coincidence that Bailey fit right into our color story this year!)

Choose good Lighting -The best photos are taken in natural lighting. Try to plan for a time in the day where the light is not too bright and the weather is not too warm or cold, especially if you have little ones. There’s nothing worse than watching your children shiver in their sleeveless holiday dresses while you yell, um, I mean encourage them to smile, act natural and stop crying for pete’s sake!

Have a Sense of Humor – This might be the most important tip. Having a sense of humor about the whole thing almost guarantees you will get something worth sharing. It doesn’t need to be a perfect picture (I know ours is not!) By allowing yourself to have a little fun in the moment, especially with young children, you are more likely to get a real snapshot of your family, one that you and others will appreciate.

Be Realistic – If you have a large family, be realistic about your expectations. Almost every year, there’s at least one member of our family that sort of “takes one for the team.” We just can’t seem to get the best of everyone in one single shot. Also, know the limits of your children. We sometimes do a quick 5-10 minute session, take a break and then try again an hour later if we feel like we didn’t get a shot we want to share.

And now, here are some outtakes from our session over the weekend.


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