It’s that time of year:
Time to plan the family photo shoot for those Christmas cards.
If you’re anything like me, then you just might anticipate this occasion with the same gusto with which you await the dentist chair:
You know it’s part of the game, but you’re always relieved when it’s over with!
Maybe I’m just a killjoy, but I’ve always kind of dreaded our annual Family Photo Shoot Day.
Getting five young children clean, dressed, and presentable- and keeping myself put together in the process- has always felt just a wee bit taxing for my disposition.
And then there’s the fun of attempting to get everyone to smile- and look- at the camera.
At the same time.
Inevitably, we’ve had lots of candid “blinks,” smirks, nose picking and who knows what else, just when the camera starting clicking.
Just thinking about it makes me shudder, even as I type.
Despite my opinions of Family Photo Day, it’s been a tradition this time of year ever since Jeremy and I got married.
We schedule a photo shoot with a photographer in October, and we have photo Christmas cards to give everyone at the holidays.
The delight of friends and family- okay, it really is mostly the grandparents– has always made this somewhat strenuous tradition feel quite worthwhile.
And the catalog of the little smiling faces from over the years is becoming very precious to me, now that some of my children are reaching the teen and preteen years.
Yes, I’m thankful we’ve invested the time and money into those annual Family Photo Shoot appointments.
It has been worth the effort.
If you’ve been looking ahead to the family photo shoot with dread this year-
or if you just need a little push to go ahead and get it scheduled–
consider this your nudge in the right direction.
Just do it!
You’ll be glad you did.
Here are a few tips to keep the family photo shoot as sane and stress-free as possible:
If you have young kids- or five kids, like we do!- you’ll probably find these especially helpful.
Get that appointment with a photographer on the calendar, ASAP.
Nothing is more stressful than feeling like you waited until the last minute and have to rush through things.
Give yourself plenty of time.
It takes me a few weeks to wrap up the annual picture-and-Christmas-card project, so I typically try to schedule our photo shoot in September or early October.
With any luck, it won’t still be hot in Texas by that time.
Go outdoors, if possible.
I learned pretty early on to stay away from stuffy indoor studios.
My kids just don’t do well with the artificial lighting, cords, background props, etc.
Not to mention that the lighting is typically so much better outdoors, versus in a studio.
The only drawback is that sometimes my little people want to play instead of get their picture taken.
Oh yes, and there are the occasional mosquitoes which attack when you’re trying to pose for the camera.
All things considered, I still prefer an outdoor photo shoot.
Decide on your color scheme- and shop for clothes in advance.
I don’t spend tons of time analyzing our photo shoot wardrobe, but I am intentional about it.
This year, I checked out a few ideas on Pinterest, took a look at the clothes in our closet, and settled on a navy-cream-and blush/pink color scheme.
I try to opt for a palette that ticks all the boxes:
- colors that look good on each family member
- we all have something nice to wear that fits the theme
- a color theme we haven’t worn in a recent family picture (I like a little variety)
After we’ve decided on a color palette, I double check that we have shoes, accessories, and anything else we need in plenty of time before the photo shoot day.
Coach young kids on their smiles.
Sometimes kids make the craziest faces.
Yes, I know they do this on purpose.
But I’m talking about even when they’re not trying to.
A few “practice smiles” are a good idea for the little people.
Maybe even the big people too.
Don’t expect perfection.
Family life isn’t perfect.
So why should we expect our family photos to be?
In an air-brush-crazy world, it’s easy to want to white-wash reality with something pretty and flawless.
But, really, people who love us want to see us in our pictures.
Yes, a top notch version of us.
So let your true selves shine through:
Is your family artistic or out-of-the box?
Are you a serious or classy or fun-loving family?
Let all the reality of “you” show, and you’ll probably love your family photos- even if they aren’t perfect.
Our family had our annual photo shoot done recently.
My friend, Beth, who has done our family pictures for about seven years, captured the beautiful photos you see in this post.
When I opened the email to view the files last week, I felt almost breathless at how vibrant the pictures looked.
I knew the day we’d experienced just prior to those pictures, and, quite honestly, it was a tough parenting day.
We were all feeling pretty drained, and not at all like pulling together for a photo shoot.
I knew how we had to press through feelings of stress and tiredness to smile at the camera.
But all I see shining through is the love and commitment we share as a family.
A very imperfect family.
A family that sometimes wishes we could just photo shop some things right out of our lives- at least for the camera.
This year’s Family Photo Day reminded me that perfection really isn’t required.
Just a willingness to live and love well- even when you don’t feel like it.
And the determination to put this tradition on the calendar, one more time.
To show up.
To let the realness shine through, without fear of the imperfections that might show up.
I think the grandparents are going to be so happy again this year.
I can’t wait to get those Christmas photo cards ordered!
Here’s to living and loving well-
If you’re looking for a great place to order family photo prints, or quality photo cards, here are the online resources I’ve used for years:
Mpix.com– fantastic photo prints in all sizes (these make great gifts for grandparents!).
Cardstore.com– my favorite place to order beautiful photo cards for the holidays.