Fall is rapidly approaching, which means the holidays aren’t far behind. And, with that, it’s time to start thinking about the family picture you’ll use on your Christmas card or holiday greeting. Make sure it’s a keeper, with your entire family looking their best, by employing these simple strategies from local photographers Heather Sisemore and Jadie Thomas. (You’ve seen Heather’s fantastic work right here on SB in each week’s FACES article!)
We recently chatted with Heather and Jadie to get their input, suggestions and overall expertise on the topic of how to get the best family picture, so this year you can achieve the seemingly unachievable: the perfect Christmas card! Here’s what we learned, as well as a great do’s and don’ts list.
When is the ideal time of year to take the family picture you intend to use on your Christmas card or holiday greeting?
Heather: I believe any time of year is good for Christmas/holiday card photographs. Most people tend to gravitate toward the fall, however, I personally love photographs captured in the spring or summer. Bright colors and lush greens pop on greeting cards.
Jadie: Summer and fall are my favorite seasons. Keep in mind that fall is the busiest season for photographers, though, so if you want a fall session, you will need to plan ahead and book your photographer early!
What time of day should people have their pictures made? Does it matter?
Jadie: Photography is all about perfect lighting. Most people do not know that light is more flattering in early morning and evening. Ladies, trust me on this one. You don’t want your photograph taken in direct light at noon!
Heather: When scheduling your photo session, be mindful of when your child typically naps, too. A well-rested baby is a happy baby!
Are there any clothing factors to consider? Solids? Stripes? Good colors? Bad?
Jadie: This is always the hard part. My biggest tip is this: Moms, pick out your clothes first. Find an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident wearing, and then worry about everyone else.
Heather: Pinterest can be your best friend when putting together outfits for group photographs. I always recommend neutral tones with pops of color.
What sort of trends do you see coming in family portraits that people should consider?
Heather: Over the years, I have less traditional, posed photographs and more lifestyle, in-the-moment images. I consider myself pretty traditional when it comes to photography, but I do love a good mix of both.
Jadie: Families are leaning more toward casual, candid portraits that show interaction between them.
What is the ideal location to shoot? Indoors? Out? Home? A park?
Heather: The ideal location is a place your family feels most comfortable. Ideally, all sessions would take place at the client’s home. Your backyard or front porch offer more options than you realize. My first preference is any location that offers a good mix of shade and interesting backgrounds. Middle Tennessee has an endless list of beautiful locations.
Jadie: It really depends on the look you prefer. Do you want trees in the background or brick buildings? Open fields or busy streets? Rustic barns or coin-operated washers and dryers? (Yes, I’ve done a laundromat session.) Local parks are certainly the most popular choice, but it’s also fun to consider totally unique locations that reflect your family’s personality.
Are there any no-nos or pointers that you would offer in terms of locations?
Heather: Not all locations are open to the public for sessions. Some places require an extra fee or permit. If you have a particular location in mind, be sure you discuss the location in advance with your photographer. Also, keep in mind the time of day. For example, [in] urban areas, such as downtown Franklin or 12South, sessions need to take place before the shops open and foot traffic picks up. Another important factor to consider when thinking of location is the ages of your children. An urban setting may be too distracting for a young child.
Heather and Jadie’s List of Do’s and Don’ts
DON’T: Match your family’s outfits. Coordinate, but please don’t match!
DO: Be timeless. Wear pieces that won’t cause regrets in 10 years.
DON’T: Feed your children Oreos, Cheetos or any other messy snack before the session. No, Oreo teeth are not easy to fix in Photoshop.
DO: Trust that your photographer can work with a fussy child. Parents don’t need to disappear; just give a little space and let the photographer engage the child.
DON’T: Give your child a toy before the session unless you would like it to appear in all of your photographs.
DO: Have realistic expectations if you have three children under the age of 5. It may take your child 20 minutes to warm up to the photographer. Sometime the best photographs are captured toward the end of the session once the jitters have worn off.
DON’T: Book your session at the same time your husband’s favorite SEC football team is playing. Just don’t.
DO: Communicate with your photographer by phone or in person a few days out from the session. Tell him or her what you think you may do with the images and if you’ll be bringing any family pets.
DON’T: Stand over the photographer’s shoulder with your iPhone snapping your own images. Yes, this happens, and it’s tacky!