Ok friends. It’s December and it’s crunch time. Yea, yea. I know you’ve got presents to buy and middle of the night elfin panic attacks to have, but I’m talking about your holiday card. It’s time. And for any number of reasons I completely understand, you did not get on the calendar of a professional photographer this year. Trip and fall, root canal, acne breakout. Or perhaps, it’s something simpler such as budget restrictions or schedules that include 17 sporting events every weekend. The struggle is real.
So now it’s on you. You, and you alone, are charged with capturing your own brood of lunatics. Or angels. I wasn’t in your house this morning, so it’s none of my business. But photography is my business. And to show you there’s no hard feelings for your obvious neglect for putting money in my pocket this holiday season, I’m going to share a few pro tips with you to ensure no one ends up with an injury. Oh, and that your hundreds of friends and family are putting your card front and center this year.
Disclaimer: You will not see any of my recent client work on my blog in November and December. I have an innate fear of positing their holiday card selections before they’ve been allowed to shock, awe and delight those closest to them.
TIME OF DAY
Photography is all about the light. And certain times of day can usually guarantee certain types of light. The so-called Magic Hours are the hour or two after sunrise and the hour or two before sunset, most especially on a bright and sunny day. These hours are when the sun is low in the sky, providing softer, more forgiving light. When the sun is high at midday, the result can be squinty eyes and blown out highlights or very harsh, deep shadows.
Should you find yourself with no other good time to shoot than at high noon on a sunny day, find some open shade. That’s the shade right where the sun drops off. Closer to a structure or tree.
Disclaimer 2: There are certainly ways to work with this light and make it awesome. However, unless you’ve got lots of time to play, you’re best served leaving that time of day to a professional. If they’re worth their salt, they can shoot anytime. So don’t fret if you hire a good professional and they only time slot he or she has available is noon.
Another thing to keep in mind with time of day is your particular child or children’s “good times.” With babies, right after a nap is best. Or with toddlers, late in the day can be really rough as they are spent and can be very cranky. Or so I’ve heard. My toddlers were perfect.
I always tell my clients to put their children in clothing in which they’ll be comfortable. If they are not comfortable, they will look exactly as such in the photos. Uncomfortable. And in all honesty, you’ll want to look at the photos one, five and ten years from now and be able to say “that was so them,” even if you hated the superhero shirt she insisted on wearing everyday (sorry, Mom). My point is, if your 8 year old is in a leisure suit when he much prefers jeans and tees, he’s going to act like he’s in a leisure suit. Not good.
And I don’t mean the kids. When I am shooting families, more often than not, I will have to tell Mom or Dad to go away. In the nicest way possible, of course. If your child is acting up or not cooperating during our shoot, you, as parents, get agitated. Rightfully so. But the kids know it, and we all know what happens from there. So it's best you let me handle it. But, if you have to be the one taking their photo, be patient. Slap on a smile and bring out the playfulness, even when you’re ready to lose your marbles and start handing down beat downs.
Finally, let them have fun, but work efficiently. Kids, especially the young ones, only have so much in the tank. Remember, you don’t need 25 perfect pictures. You really only need one or two for the card.
I hope this helps. And remember, should all else fail, you know where to find me.
Happy Holidays, friends!