Hello, family photo season. Get your Khakis and white button-up tops ready because here comes the flash! If you haven’t booked your shoot already, you’re not out of luck but you’re SUPER late to the party. For those who have booked a photographer, haven’t booked a photographer, or are going to take their own pictures via self-timers and counter tops, here’s all the “need to know” to get you up and running and well prepared for a pin-worthy picture. Ready?
Book your shoot, NOW. Just do it.
Yes, you are late to the party, but sometimes late isn’t a bad thing. There are plenty of photographers still offering Holiday shoots. Around this time, photographers will begin to put up some last minute holiday specials (some are offering mini sessions). People can cancel at anytime with family shoots so check in to see if there are last-minute openings and ask the photographer to take down your info in the event that someone does cancel. If there’s a photographer offering mini sessions, they may or may not hang around at one location and shoot one family after another from dawn to dusk. They rather be taking your picture than sitting in a field, picking grass, and making grass hats. Which means they will call if there’s a cancellation.
Schedule your time wisely.
Straight from the mouths of the pros, in order to receive and send your Christmas cards on time, you should schedule your session within the first few weeks in November (by Thanksgiving the latest). There are some photographers that might be willing to schedule holiday sessions in December but your selection of photographers will decrease drastically and sometimes with that, so does the quality of the photographer. Keep in mind that photographers do most of their work AFTER they take your pictures. They’re editing multiple sessions between shooting and posting your final images so make sure you know what your photographers turnaround time is. If you’re short on time, consider sending a digital holiday card. It’s a new age, guys. Save a stamp, send an email.
How do I know (s)he’s the one?
You’re not picking a mattress. Keep that in mind. But you do want to find someone that meshes with your style. Do your research. Know your budget and work from there. Your best bet is word of mouth. Begin with the recommendations from friends and family and check my recommendations below. If that doesn’t stir up enough options, look to local mom boards or sale pages on Facebook and ask for photographer recommendations. Once you’ve found a handful of photographers, look through their site and their Instagram to see samples of their work. Narrow your search to the photographers that fit your style whether urban, rustic, classic, or modern. If you prefer candid shots, look for that in their work. If you like portraits, look for those. Once you narrow it down to your top three, then your selection will be based on availability.
The right person, the wrong time.
If you’re planning on having your shoot outdoors, the best time to take your photos is two hours before sunset. If you can’t book a session at that time, there’s no need to panic, most photographers have the ability to play with the lighting to make your family looks fabulous.
Know what you want, what you’ll get, and what you’re going to pay for it.
What is your ultimate goal with your photos? Christmas cards? Framing? Facebook? This makes a difference. If your goal is Christmas cards, keep an eye out for photographers that are offering Christmas cards as part of the package they provide, as it can be cheaper and quicker. If you want to print photos, ask your photographer for printing rights and make sure they’re giving you the image with proper printing resolution. Sometimes photographers will include in your package, a certain number of edited images and they may include the rights to print them. Many usually do not include printing rights. This is where things become tricky. The most important questions to ask is 1. How many edited images will I receive? 2. Will I receive any RAW images? 3. Do you provide the printing rights and how many images are included in the rights? 5. Do I need to pay anything additional for the printing rights? It’s awkward for both you and your photographer (and EXTREMELY upsetting for you) if you go through all of the effort of a shoot and then not have the photos you want from them. Rights to all images, is not necessary. Aim for 5-10. Your photographer will take a dozen shots of one pose and ONE will be perfect.
How much is too much?
As for props, sometimes even one is one too many. Too many props will distract from the most important part of your pictures, YOUR FAMILY. Setting up scenes takes up time which takes time away from pictures. Many photographers will bring all the props you need but don’t become consumed in setting up a scene. Leave the bulk of the holiday decor for your home. YOU are the star, your background isn’t. Keep the same in mind when it comes to selecting multiple locations and outfits. Doing so cuts into your time and most packages include one location and one outfit (be sure to ask). Keep it simple.
What to wear?
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. If you don’t listen to any of my advice, please, listen to this — matching color schemes, yes, matching outfits, no! Choose three or four different colors (not every person needs to wear every color) and arrange your outfits by way of a color scheme. Whites are a little more challenging to photograph but your photographers will work with it. Please DO NOT put everyone in jeans and white button up shirts. You’re not the Goldbergs and this isn’t the 80s.
I like to DIY, where should I print my cards?
The pros, like Susan Marinello use MOO, Tiny Prints and Miller’s. Check their shipping rates for rush shipping and plan accordingly, leaving four days for delivery. Remember, New Years cards are the new Christmas cards.
I’ll leave you with these final words of wisdom. TRUST YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. There’s a reason they make money doing what they do, they do it well. You can Pinterest all the photo locations and poses that you’d like but recreating an image is nearly impossible. Suggest a couple of poses and try them out. Then allow your photographer to create photos of your family that others will want to pin.
If you’re having trouble finding a photographer, here are some of my personal favorites. Please note, the following photographers did not sponsor or endorse this post, they were selected based on my own research and personal preference. Comment with your favorites (or comment your page link if you’re a photographer) so we can increase the list. Check back, we’ll be adding more!
Peace Love Sue (also travels)