One thing I wanted to try to do while we were out in the County was take family photos for our holiday cards. We did a DIY family photo shoot last year and I was really happy with the results so I thought we'd attempt it once again, this time against a beautiful country backdrop.
A DIY photo shoot takes a bit of planning and we kind of threw our plans out the window. Poor weather and weekend cottage laziness meant we didn't take photos until Sunday afternoon, just before we hopped into the car for the drive back home. By that time, we were all a little cranky, wind-blown, chilly, and impatient - I'm just happy we captured smiles and not scowls!
Each year, I order Christmas cards from Minted. Their choice of designs, quality of paper, and customer service keep me coming back. Minted is also constantly innovating and they're now offering products like Completely Custom foil-pressed or letterpressed holiday cards and art prints. I'm pretty excited - I think the house portrait would make a great gift for Sean (shhh!). They also just started offering online invitations this week (free until Dec.31st!) so now I'm all set for organizing holiday parties too.
No matter which holiday card you decide on - I'm partial to this, this, this or this style - there's a few tips you want to keep in mind when you're taking your own photos:
1. Take photos in the morning, especially if you have little ones. Everyone is well-rested and fresh faced at the beginning of the day so the time after breakfast and before lunch is great for capturing everyone looking their best.
2. Choose your holiday card before your photo shoot. This might seem backwards but choosing your card, knowing its layout, orientation and where wording is placed will allow you to plan your photoshoot better. I prefer a portrait orientation for our cards so I made sure to take vertical photos and leave enough room above our heads for the text. I also took both group and individual shots in case we wanted to have more than one photo on our card.
3. Use a DSLR. This is the one time you'll want to break out the big camera. For great looking cards, you'll need to use photos that are high resolution, crisp and clear. Smartphone photos might work if there small photos in the layout of your card, but for a single-photo card, aim for better quality. Using a tripod and remote can also help to ensure everyone is relaxed and positioned correctly before that shutter clicks.
4. Dress comfortably. Wearing clothes that are well coordinated looks great, but I think its more important that the subjects in the photo feel great. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. If you have a picky child, find an outfit you both approve of.
5. Pick a good location. You can take family photos in your home or at an outside location. Outdoor shoots can offer multiple locations, provide space for group shots, and have better light so I tend to opt for the outdoors for holiday photos. Look for surroundings that have interesting colour or texture... buildings, nature trails, and bodies of water can all provide the right backdrop.
In the end, our photos aren't perfect but I love that they capture us, out in the country, near our new home away from home. It's remarkable I'm ahead of the game on Christmas cards... when I haven't prepared a thing for a Halloween party we're hosting in three days! Now that's scary.