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16 Dos and Donts for Fantastic Family Holiday Photos

For many, holiday photos are an annual rite of passage: the one time of year when the whole family dresses to the nines and gathers together for a framable moment. There’s a lot of pressure to get things just right. After all, this is the photo that will be signed, sealed, and delivered to the three hundred people in your address book, from your college roommate to your third cousin. Holiday photos don’t have to be stressful, however. We have pulled together tips from the Clickin Moms pros. Clickin Moms is the top community of female photographers in the world and the CEO, Sarah Wilkerson, is sharing her tips along with these amazing photos from Clickin Moms professionals.

Let’s get started with the 16 Dos and Don’ts for Fantastic Family Holiday Photos…

  • 16 Dos and Don’ts for Fantastic Family Holiday Photos 1 of 17
    babble_meyers

    Click through to see them all...

  • Do: Take more photos than you think you need. 2 of 17
    babble_dell_2

    The more people you have in the frame, the more difficult it is to get a single shot in which everyone looks his or her best, so take more images than you think you'll need to ensure that you can pull together the perfect Christmas card photograph. Shooting in burst mode can also be helpful when you have fast moving or fidgety children in the family.

    Image by Jennifer Dell

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Rely on a single pose. 3 of 17
    babble_turner

    Have fun with your session! Get a few carefully posed, smiling-at-the-camera shots if that is important to you, then encourage family members to move around! This will bring some energy into your shots and help personalities shine through. Allowing kids to play "director" and tell mom and dad what they want to do for a few shots is a wonderful way to make them more excited about the pictures as well.

    Image by Michelle Turner 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Coordinate outfits and accessories. 4 of 17
    babble_lockheart_1

    Style your family with carefully coordinated colors and patterns, and incorporate a few accessories - such as a hat or costume jewelry that makes a statement - to add memorable dimension. Also think about the location where you'll be shooting to ensure that the outfits pair nicely with the setting.

    Image by Amy Lucy Lockheart 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Dress identically. 5 of 17
    babble_wilkinson

    Family members' looks should complement one another without matching. Build your family's wardrobe around a color palette of 2-3 hues, and try to include a variety of textures for visual interest.

    Image by Monica Wilkinson 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Make sure everyone is well rested and well fed 6 of 17
    babble_gould

    Coordinate your photo session around meals and naps. Freshly pressed clothes and perfectly curled hair won't last long if kids are cranky, but good moods make for vibrant portraits that are authentically full of joy.

    Image by Alicia Gould 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Forget to bring snacks. 7 of 17
    babble_dell_1

    Snacks during a session aren't about hunger, they are about cooperation. The promise of fruit snacks or a couple of crackers can be a surprisingly effective way to get good eye contact, smiles, or patient positioning in a pretty patch of light. Try to stick to snacks that are non-messy; the last thing you need is a chocolate smeared smile or cheese puff fingers wiped on a pretty white sweater.

    Image by Jennifer Dell 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Incorporate holiday props. 8 of 17
    babble_sweeney

    Styled sessions and on-location themes are especially popular right now. Think about ways you can set up a holiday story with a few simple props. Set up Santa's workshop with toys and presents, craft a hot cocoa stand with mugs and marshmallows, or do a pajama themed Twas the Night Before Christmas shoot!

    Image by Tarah Sweeney 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Go overboard. 9 of 17
    babble_dell_3

    Sometimes less is more. Forget the snow machine and the Santa beards. Props as simple as hats and mittens, a puppy with a bow, or a chalkboard sign that reads, "Merry Christmas" are a great way to capture the spirit of the season.

    Image by Jennifer Dell 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Prioritize the light. 10 of 17
    babble_miranda_2

    Beautiful light takes every image to the next level. Open shade -- an evenly lit area beneath the canopy of a tree or open structure such as a gazebo -- makes for wonderful light any time of day, but the favorite shooting time for many photographers is the hour or two just before the sun sets. Outdoor portraits are positively sparkling when the sun is low in the sky and the world is bathed in golden light.

    Image by Carrie Anne Miranda

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Be afraid to set up your own lighting. 11 of 17
    babble_wilkerson

    Lighting setups don't have to be complicated, and you don't need a studio for fantastic indoor portrait lighting. The lights of the Christmas tree or simple white lights in the background of the image are an easy and effective way to establish a beautifully magical atmosphere for holiday photos.

    Image by Sarah Wilkerson 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Include the whole family. 12 of 17
    babble_miranda_1

    More than half of the Christmas cards I receive each year include only pictures of kids. As wonderful as it is to see how children grow from year to year, it's always beautiful to see the dynamics of the whole crew or how the baby is starting to look a bit like her mom or dad. This year, try to get everyone involved - mom, dad, pets, even extended family!

    Image by Carrie Anne Miranda

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Forget about yourself. 13 of 17
    babble_meyers

    Too often, the photographer in the family is absent from the scrapbook. Not only do your friends and family want to see your smiling face on the Christmas card, but it's important for your children to document that you were there, too! Consider hiring a local photographer or set up a tripod and timer so that you can get in the frame.

    Image by Lacey Meyers 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Keep shooting in between poses. 14 of 17
    babble_haslem

    Sometimes - especially if any family members are feeling a bit nervous or uncomfortable in front of the camera - the very best shots are the ones in between. When both kids and parents let their guard down or aren't performing for the photographer, truly beautiful, authentic interactions can happen. Make a point to capture those candid moments!

    Image by Stacey Haslem

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Don’t: Keep shooting after it’s no longer fun. 15 of 17
    babble_lockheart_2

    Whether you are photographing clients or your own family, recognize when children are getting tired, dad has had enough, or mom is stressed out by shenanigans. Knowing when to wrap things up is an important part of making photography an enjoyable experience and helps to set the stage for future cooperation and enthusiasm for being in the frame.

    Image by Amy Lucy Lockheart 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

  • Do: Capture holiday rituals. 16 of 17
    babble_stottman

    "Lifestyle" photography is semi-staged environmental portraiture and has become increasingly popular in recent years. Rather than photographing family members all smiling at the camera from the couch, consider setting up a scene in which they are engaged in holiday activities, whether that's hanging stockings together, baking gingerbread, or picking out the perfect Christmas tree at the tree farm.

    Image by Melissa Stottmann

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  • Don’t: Cut your time too close. 17 of 17
    babble_arego

    If you are taking holiday photos for Christmas cards, it's never too early to begin. Holidays are busy for photographers, print labs, and the post office, so stay ahead of the game!  You can stage a holiday scene indoors if you wish, but a summer photo of your smiling family on the beach or a group shot from your European vacation is every bit as good. The most important thing of all is simply capturing your family's joy and love.

    Image by Jodi Arego 

    Get more photography tips at Clickin Moms.

Jacinda Boneau is a fabric designer and founding co-editor at Pretty Prudent, the premier design and lifestyle blog providing inspiration and instruction to help anyone create beautiful things, food, and experiences for their friends and family.

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