For almost 15 years I have heard many new and some old clients stress about getting the “perfect” photo of their family for their holiday card as well as gifts for friends and family. Sometimes they try and take the photo themselves and decide it is too difficult and call me, and sometimes they come straight here with ideas of how they want everyone to look. I am always willing to try things, but my advice to everyone out there is that the best photographs are the ones that just happen- the in between moments- not the ones where everyone is looking at the camera and looking perfect- I am not saying it cannot happen- but when the parents are really stressed about taking a perfect photo, the kids feel it- and tend to rebel against it.
If you are trying to get photos on your own, first make sure you know how to use your camera, you don’t want to be fidgeting with it and missing the best shots. Second, make sure you and your kids are rested- if you are tired and impatient, it will never get off to a good start. And if the kids are tired or not feeling well- try it another day when they are more rested instead of pushing something that is not going well. Whatever you do, don’t tell or yell at your kids using the word, “Smile or Cheese!” it makes them smile in a practiced way instead of a natural way- try just making them laugh by saying or doing something funny- it works a lot better! A friend or relative can really help with this! ( just this morning, I borrowed the little 9ish year old friend of my client- I gave her a few things to do that would bring laughter to the kids, and it worked- they all cracked up and I can’t wait to see what I captured!) Bring a camera on outings so that you can take candid photos while they are interacting doing something fun- or take the kids dressed comfortably to a park instead of sitting them in front of the Christmas tree all dressed up, itchy and scratchy. Here is a link to some other tips for taking photos during the holidays…http://www.essortment.com/all/photographytips_rlmy.htm
If the above fails and you aren’t able to get what you want, call in the professionals! Try and relax, and know that kids don’t always perform the way you envisioned, but a professional can bring out the best in them, especially if they are allowed to have fun. They will smile and laugh if they are feeling comfortable and not taking on the parent’s stress. They will be also be more natural if you let their clothing and hair go once it is fixed- trying to style and fix between shots always makes kids uneasy.
Relax, relax, and relax- that is the key- letting things happen as they do- and allowing it to be ok if your vision is not fulfilled. There are so many more serious things in life to worry about- having the “perfect” photograph of your family should not be one of them. Documenting your family so that you can remember them during that time in their life is more important than staging a photograph where all that will be remembered is tears and anxiety- it isn’t worth it! I promise I have gotten the best feedback from the holiday cards that were unexpected- try it and see how it goes this year.