Eight Tips For a Successful Holiday Photo Shoot!

It’s that time of year again.  Kids are back to school, there’s chill in the morning air, and the 

leaves are starting to turn.  And oh yes, it’s not even October and you just heard a holiday song at the grocery store {huge eye roll}.  Believe it or not, it’s also time to start thinking about getting updated family photos!  Who doesn’t love the beautiful foliage in October and November as a gorgeous backdrop for holiday children’s portraits?
Here are EIGHT tips for having a successful holiday photo experience from start to finish!
1.  Find the right match.
This is pretty obvious, but you need to find someone to take the photos!  Ask family and friends for recommendations and then check out some local photographers’ websites.  First and foremost, do you like their portfolio?  Can you see yourself and your family in the images on their website?  Is the photographer within your budget? Do they sell what you’re looking for?  If you really want digital files so you can create holiday cards and make prints for holiday gifts be sure your photographer sells them! If you’re interested in mostly candid shots be sure the photographer can deliver.  Lastly, does your photographer carry liability insurance?  This very important item is often overlooked.  Safety first!
2. Don’t delay.
Fall sessions book up quickly for in-demand photographers.  Get in touch ASAP if you are looking for photos that will be delivered in time for the holidays! So many of my clients book as early as July or August to ensure they have a spot on my busy fall calendar!
3.  Talk is not cheap
Have a conversation with your photographer.  Yes, an actual phone to ear (not fingers to keyboard) conversation about what you want to get out of your photo session and what you plan to do with the images afterwards.  For the most part, I assume clients have looked at my website before booking me and they know what type of images they can expect from me, but I always ask specifically what the client is looking to get from the session.  Being on the same page with your photographer is crucial to a successful photo session.
4. Timing is everything
Pick a time for your session when everyone (including you) is well fed and well rested.  For outdoor portraits, I always suggest about 1-2 hours before sunset to take advantage of soft, flattering natural light, but if this falls in the middle of your child’s nap, you’ll need a plan B.
Meeting in the morning after a good breakfast is another option.  This time is usually great for families with young children who get up at the crack of dawn anyway.  For those with early risers, 8:30am is practically lunch time, right?!  Just try to avoid the middle of the day, when the sunlight is high and harsh.
5. Comfort before fashion.
The most popular question I get asked by clients before a session is, “What should we wear?”.  It’s best to pick 2-4 colors that complement each other and plan outfits using this color scheme.  Let nature inspire you — red, orange, gold, and brown all work well.  Coordinate your clothing- but don’t get too matchy matchy!  Patterns and stripes are OK in moderation.  Logos or words on shirts can be really distracting and are best avoided.  The most important thing to remember in choosing clothing is to pick clothes that are comfortable and make you feel great.  This confidence will show through in the photos, guaranteed.  Here are some examples that really worked well with fall foliage:
6. To reward or not to reward
Decide ahead of time whether there will be an incentive or reward for your kids’ cooperation during the photo session and communicate this information to your photographer so she can use it as a reminder sparingly during the session.  Younger children may not need any reward.  With older ones, you may need to get creative.  If you present it to your children like you are meeting up with a fun friend to have some play time, having a reward may be unnecessary.  Although, everyone loves to have ice cream after working hard at a photo shoot, right?
7. Play it cool
The best way to get kids to cooperate during a photo session is to just not try too hard.  Forced poses and demands of ‘cheese!’  never really work that well, especially for the toddler set.  I find what works best is to follow the youngest child’s lead.  If he wants to take a walk down the path, we’ll follow him and work a pose around wherever he stops.  If there is one thing I’ve learned in this business, it’s that you can’t force a two year old to do anything they don’t want to do!
8. Sense of Humor Required
Sometimes, no matter how much planning you do before a session, things just don’t go exactly the way you had hoped.  As any parent knows, kids are unpredictable.  If my client’s children are having a tough time warming up to the situation, I put my camera down and take a 5-10 minute break to play a game or run around.  But, if all else fails, embrace the reality of the situation.  A holiday card like this could be a favorite for years to come!!
Cara Soulia lives in Needham, MA with her husband and two children ( #3 in Feb 2015!).  She is a portrait photographer specializing in genuine, joyful and beautiful portraits of children and their families.  She is also a proud Parent Talk member and business affiliate.  Cara offers a Parent Talk discount of $50 off photography session fees.  Please emailcara@carasoulia.com or call 617.501.4008 to discuss availability for fall sessions! See more of Cara‘s work on her website:www.carasoulia.com


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