It’s September 1st … Labor Day weekend is upon us, the kids are back in school, and I saw Jack’ O Lanterns in the home improvement store yesterday! O M Gee … is it holiday time ALREADY?! Do we really need to be thinking about Christmas cards already? Well, from a photography standpoint, yes. Most people want to get their cards in the mail during the first week in December for plenty of time for them to be enjoyed during the entire holiday season. Backing up from there means that your cards need to be signed and addressed by around December 1! Backing up just a little bit further, if you want those cards to contain custom family photography, in order to have the images in hand by December 1, you should start booking your holiday sessions now. Now??? Seriously, you say??? Well considering that you can actually get a pumpkin spice latte in some places already, yes, now is a good time to at least start the planning. But don’t stress …. after all, the holidays are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends and not a time of absolute madness. So here’s a few simple tips to help minimize the madness:
1. Start looking for a family photographer now. The process of shooting, processing and selecting your family images can take up to a month, so waiting until mid-November or early December to START the process of family photos will add to the sense of craziness that comes with the holiday madness.
2. Many photographers offer “mini-sessions” at this time of year to help families get just a few images that they may need for their holiday cards. These sessions are smaller, quick versions of the full-blown session, usually at a discounted price. Keep your eyes open for those.
3. Once you have decided on a photographer and a date for your sessions, you will need to choose outfits for the family. This is one area where I see families really get stressed … especially Dads. My best advice here is just keep it casual and let poor Dad skip the tie! Everybody does not have to match exactly, or look like they stepped out of the pages of the latest Gap Kids ad. As long as the outfits are in the same color palette, or as one of my clients put it recently, as long as everyone in the photo looks like they are going to the same party, you will be fine! My best advice is for mom to choose an outfit that makes her feel amazing, and then coordinate the family around her. Solid colors or small prints work best. Clothing should be fitted and while baggy or blousy outfits may be cute, they do not photograph well and should be avoided. No one wants to look large in a photograph.
4. This may be the most important tip of all …. RELAX and have fun with it! Remember to just enjoy the process! If your kids are not smiling perfectly, or if your little one decides to melt down and cry through the whole session, it’s OK. You are documenting who your family is today and those memories will be treasured parts of who they are for a lifetime! The best family sessions are those that are very relaxed and allow for every family members’ unique personality to emerge naturally.
5. If you really can’t pull it together to send out Christmas cards, consider waiting a few weeks and send out New Year’s cards … or do like we did last year when we waited to catch our breath after Christmas, and sent out Valentine’s cards.
Hopefully, with a little advanced planning, you will slide into the holidays with ease and maybe even have a few relaxed minutes to enjoy a pumpkin latte or two!