Every winter season families gather together to create holiday cheer. The dreaded Christmas portrait is always on the agenda. For many families it is the same routine year after year. They dress up in ugly holiday sweaters, crowd around the fireplace and force generic smiles. All this mess is made just to send a Christmas picture with your annual Christmas cards.
It doesn’t matter if you are shooting your Christmas portrait yourself, having a friend do it or hiring the services of a professional photographer. There are still some things you can do to ensure you end up with a great family portrait. Following these few simple tips will help create some of your best Christmas memories.
1. ClothingThough you do not want everyone in the family to be wearing matching bulky sweaters with a large Christmas tree knitted into it, you do want everyone in the picture to complement each other. Try selecting a couple neutral colors and add one or two complementary colors. Accent colors can be added to the picture through neck ties, sweater vests or jewelry. This will keep everyone in the Christmas picture looking coordinated, without looking like twins. Try using a patterned Christmas backdrop to emphasize your chosen color scheme.
2. Keep it FunYou don’t want everyone to look like they had to force a smile during the family portrait. On the other hand, those oversized-cheesy grins that you see in the kids’ school portraits can be even worse. Set everyone up in a place where they will be relaxed. For example, a living room area with an overstuffed couch or in the back yard around a large tree is a great setting. If you can’t find a great natural background, consider using a beautiful studio holiday backdrop to complete the family picture. Strike up some conversations with the family. This will keep everyone looking relaxed and enjoying the annual Christmas portrait. Incorporating fun themes or messages into your pictures is also a great way to create memories that the kids will enjoy for years.
You can also try to incorporate an activity the entire family can get involved with. For example, shoot the family putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, having a snowball fight, wrapping presents or even reading a holiday classic around the fireplace.
3. Keep Kids HappyThis tip goes along with keeping the portrait session casual, but needs its own category. Young kids can make or break the final look of a Christmas portrait. An adorable outfit and innocent smile can instill happiness and cheer into anyone who sees the picture. However, they can also turn a great portrait session into a nightmare if they are not kept happy. Try shooting the Christmas picture around times of the day when you know the kids will be awake and energized, and avoid times that fall around nap time or late evenings.
4. Shoot Different AnglesSet the camera up at different angles to the group. Try to zoom in, cutting out as much of the background as possible. You can also shoot the family portrait from the side, above or below them. All of the different angles and zoom will produce a creative look and feel to the portrait. Keep in mind, you may need to switch your lighting around if you are changing up the angles of the photos.
5. Head OutdoorsIf the weather allows it, take your Christmas portrait session outdoors for some unique shots with nature. If it has just snowed, get out there and sit in the snow or find a large pine tree to stand around. Not only can shooting your family portrait outdoors provide breathtaking backgrounds, it can also provide you with enough natural light for your shoot. Be creative when finding a location outdoors to shoot your family portrait and select a few different locations. This will offer you plenty of choices when selecting the final Christmas portrait to send out with the cards. These are several different things you can do to ensure you have the best possible Christmas portrait this year. Also, take your time and do not rush the process. If possible, take some practice shots before the family arrives so you already know how you want them to pose and where. Do not forget that if you are shooting your own family portrait to use a tripod. It will make things easier for you when you have to reposition and angle the camera. But most of all…have fun and enjoy this time with family!
-Backdrop Express Photography Team
Interested in learning more about family portraits? Read Tips for Taking Family Portraits!
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