Seven holiday and family photo images collaged on a holiday background.

Tips & Tricks HQ

Ready, Set, Smile!

It’s that time of year again where you’re probably thinking about scheduling a family photo. If you're scratching your head going, "How to do this?" You're not alone. We sat down with Margaret Cheatham Williams, video and film editor and former visual journalist for The New York Times, to bring you 8 expert tips for taking cute, real photos for your holiday card. Whether your mailing out prints or sending your greetings via email, Margaret will help you capture the heart of your family.

 

Magical Holiday Photos

1. If you have older kids, prepare them in advance by setting expectations. Generally photos go well with a fun plan for afterwards (ice cream, pizza night, a trip to the toy store, etc.!).

 

2. Make sure everyone is well rested and well fed. This probably goes without saying but kids are generally most pleasant first thing in the morning or late afternoon (if you have nappers), which can coincide nicely with golden hour. For food-motivated toddlers, snacks are helpful. Stash bite-sized treats (fruit, cheerios, etc.) in your pocket and hand them out as needed so your toddler isn't marching through the entire shoot clutching a bag of Goldfish.

 

3. Dress comfortably—photos can look stuffy when it's obvious you and your kids are uncomfortable. Unless super formal is your vibe, choose clothes that you can move and play in. Great potos are candid and express you and your kid's unique personalities. Dress in solid colors, as it's easy to coordinate without being overtly matchy, and sometimes prints can distract and play tricks on camera. Try mixing in textures a bit and avoid words or large logos.

 

4. Simplify as much as possible. If your dog isn't well behaved at the beach and that's going to add stress, either leave your pup at home or book another locale.

Don't haul a million outfit changes—however it never hurts to have a clean shirt for a toddler. Otherwise, leave whatever you can behind and be hands-free.

 

5. Watch out for details like Apple watches, hair ties on wrists, and snotty babies and toddlers. Your photographer will likely flag these sorts of things but sometimes they forget, and you can save them a lot of trouble in the edit. Maybe you will even get your photos faster!

 

6. Choose your photographer (and location) wisely. There are a lot of talented camera operators in the world but what will make your family photos shine is someone who can make you all feel at ease. Do your research and seek out someone who matches your desired style. Some photographers excel with a light and airy photos, while others are more journalistic in nature and gravitate towards contrast, movement, and moments. Know what you will receive, in terms of numbers of files (roughly), and when.

 

7. If you have a larger group, be sure to have a shot list for your photographer so as to not miss any desired pairings.

 

8. Parents should try to work towards keeping a neutral camera-ready face (smile if you want!)—so often we are futzing, trying to ensure our kids are smiling and happy, and that often looks unflattering. Focus on keeping your cool, and the photographer will work with the kids!

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