For the past few years one of my all time favorite holiday family photo sessions has been trending on Pinterest. It has inspired many a Christmas Card Photo Idea. I have received many an email about how I captured the “perfect snow image.” I thought I’d reveal the step by step process here on my own website!
Step 1) Styling. Coordinate—but don’t be matchy/matchy & Accessorize!
If you’re shooting with a group, make sure your outfits complement one another’s. Choose a consistent color palette (which does not mean the same color). Scarves, hats, bows, bands…it all adds a fun twist to an otherwise “standard” look. Accessories are also a great place to coordinate looks. In this example, brother is wearing a bold pattern with blue, white and gray, and the girls are rocking gray hat/headband.I was lucky to work with a family that ROCKS when it comes to styling. But I always share these tips with clients, and even text outfit ideas back and forth to ensure a coordinate look.
Step 2) Choose the Right Backdrop
The snow (or confetti, or glitter, etc) can be tricky to pick up against some backgrounds. Here it works because the Christmas tree is first appropriate stylistically, but also because it’s dark color highlights the flakes. Avoid lighter backgrounds, and backlighting for the perfect snow shot.
Step 3) Take a Before Shot.
What really makes this shot is the Before and After. First we filled the kids hands with “snow” and then told them to pretend to blow. This made for cute expressions, and focus on those fantastic baby blues they all have.
Step 4) The Action Shot
We instructed the kids to “blow slowly”. One big gust and you’ll miss your shot. With them blowing continuously I fired away. It’s important to shoot in rapid succession, because there are so many micro-expressions going on here, you really don’t want to miss the perfect one.
Step 5) Clean Up
The snow used in this shot was the synthetic plastic kind you buy at Target during the holidays. We gathered up all the pieces afterward as best we could. Having a solid surface, like concrete under your subjects will help in clean up a lot. I have since been using the blanket i bring as a tarp to catch all the “snow.”
My good friend Erin used the photos from this session in a fantastic Christmas Card that she designed. If your looking for an original and beautiful Christmas Card idea, check her out at Bringing Up Burns.
Here is my contribution to the Christmas Card Ideas to inspire you:
1) Let it Snow. Perfect for this snow shot. The “Let it Snow” idea is great for a winter family photo.
2) All You Need is Love. Get up close and personal, let the warm fuzzy feelings spark family hugs and kisses.
3) Best Gift Ever! This Christmas Card Idea is perfect for a new baby, or even a wedding photo.
4) Blessings. This Holiday Card Idea greeting works for nearly any special holiday or family photo. But, I love it especially for this extended family photo, grandparents smothered in grandchildren.
5) Joy! and all of its derivatives, is another holiday card idea just bursting with possibilities. This caption could easily be “Jumping for Joy.” Have fun with your holiday family photos and let the JOY flow freely. Your happy smiles will be perfect to spread the JOY of the holidays.
6) Classic Merry Christmas. You can’t go wrong with the classic “Merry Christmas” holiday card idea. Here, the perfect family photo is framed with a beautiful, ornate frame and banner.
7) Classic Merry Christmas with a Twist. For our card last year, we kept the Christmas greeting simple. But added the twist of the gold foil trend. Also trending lately, is the greeting directly on the photo. If this is a look you’re wanting, make sure to let your photographer know, so she can provide enough space to add text to your Christmas Card photo.
8) Welcome Christmas. This is one of my all time favorite Christmas Card Ideas. In 2009, I was really into watching the holiday classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” My favoite scene is where the Whos join hands and Welcome Christmas in song. That concept, and this photo by the very talented Jonathan Canlas, brought this Christmas Card Idea to life. “Christmas day is in our grasp, as long as we have hands to clasp.” Dr. Seuss really said it all!
9) Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. This is such a great greeting for your Christmas Card. And a happy smiling family photo is the perfect compliment. These cute girls and their parent just screamed, “Holly Jolly.”
10) Joy to the World. Sometimes babies aren’t cooperating, and 2 year olds aren’t looking in the camera. But you know what, that’s life! This family photo is perfect just the way it is. The best portraits are those with personality, and here this family’s personality is on full display.
11) Laughing all the Way. Get the family close together and laugh and play for this Christmas Card Idea. These smiles are the perfect holiday greeting.
12) May Your Days be Merry and Bright. These sundrenched portraits were perfect for the bright and merry season.
13) Happy Holidays from the Bottom of Our Mistletoes. This photo is from one of my very first family photo shoots. I love the dog pile we had going on in this chair. The focus on the toes makes it perfect for this Christmas Card Idea. You could use your family’s sandy toes at the beach, or your newborn baby’s toes, the possibiliites are endless. 14) Who’s been Naughty or Nice? When you have a cranky baby, don’t fight it. Embrace the moment and you could end up with the perfect Christmas Card. I’ve seen the naughty and nice Christmas Card Idea used with kissing couples, silly kids, and crying babies like this one.
15) Oh Christmas Tree. We take a jammie photo in front of the tree every Christmas Eve. I like the idea of sharing our photo on a Christmas Card, This could also work at the Christmas tree lot, when your decorating your tree, or visiting a special Christmas tree (think Time Square)
16) Oh What Fun. I love the idea of a collage to capture what a wonderful year you’ve had. This Christmas card captures special moments from and extended family photo shoot.
17) Peace on Earth. This family silhouette portrait is a great photo for this Christmas Card Idea. The serene setting and beautiful sunset capture gratitude for the Earth and your family.
18) Dear Santa, Is it too late to be good? This shot is a personal and family favorite It is from one of my very first family photo shoots. I love when kids are perfect at a photo shoot, but I also love to capture these real moments between siblings. This sweet girl was perfect for this family photo shoot, so when she stuck out her tongue it was a funny and cute slice of her personality. This type of silly shot works great for this Santa themed Christmas Card Idea.
19) Warm Wishes. Do you like warm hugs? Of course, we all do. That’s what’s so adorable about this family Christmas Card Idea.
20) We Wish you a Merry Christmas. Another classic. This Chrsitmas Card theme works for nearly any family photos. Another idea would be to just use “And a Happy New Year” and send your cards out after Christmas. This particular card also served to announce that we were expecting our 5th baby.
But that’s a totally different post. Happy holiday season, and enjoy the inspiration for your Christmas Cards.