I love seeing all of the beautiful family photos that grace our mailbox during the holiday season. So many beautiful smiles, well-coiffed heads, and perfectly edited outfits. I also know that for every gorgeous picture there are more than a dozen that look like below if you have small children!
On the day of our family holiday photo shoot, I can be found running around trying to dress a squirmy toddler and attempting to catch and dress my almost-five-year-old who thinks it is hysterical to run away from me when she’s undressed. I fix my daughter’s hair only to find that she pulled it out minutes later. I comb my son’s hair and find him in the hallway with a tiara perched on his head one minute and a bucket over his head the next. Yeah, I am going to have to be an onsite hair stylist for them.
Oh and then there is me…dressing myself, doing my hair and makeup (I usually end up running out of time and do my makeup while we drive to the shoot). Meanwhile, there is my husband Rob. He not only has time to calmly get ready, he also meticulously irons his clothes for the day.
Disclaimer: I have not ironed my clothes since 2011 (year my daughter was born). For a couple reasons…first, who has the time?! Second, I cannot figure a way to do it safely with two small children.
Needless to say, it’s not a stress-free day! The one thing I look forward to is seeing our photographer. I know and trust that she will not only capture a bunch of fantastic moments, but she will put us at ease too!
That is the number one most important piece of advice I would give anyone is to choose a photographer you are comfortable with and click with in terms of personality. We were referred to our photographer, Karen, through friends and I adored her so much the moment I met her. She has this knack of melting my stress away. Well, not all of my stress, because the kids are a total hot mess on photo day, but she does make me feel better. It always feels like we are meeting up for coffee…no rush to get through things, not business-like. Her passion and love for her work and clients shows through.
Here are some other tips:
- Do a test run a day or two before. Have everyone try on their outfits from head to toe. We have had various hiccups the day of…my husband’s sweater had a coffee stain, my daughter outgrew the dress I had bought a month prior and my son outgrew his shoes I had planned on him wearing. Oh and of course I had second thoughts on what I was going to wear. By trying everything out a couple nights before you avoid the scramble stress on photo day.
- Feed the kids. Even if it is earlier than when they normally eat. You never know how long the shoot can run and “hangry” kids are not fun. Actually, feed everyone. Hangry adults are the worst! Bring goldfish, gummies, whatever snack item to bribe the kids and get them to look in certain directions. The best way to make a sibling gaze down at another is put a candy corn next to where you want him/her to look!
- Pick your best time of the day! This year we chose right in the middle of nap time. It was so challenging! I also know that our witching hour is 4pm-6pm. So I avoid then!
- Bring a backup outfit. Whether they play in the dirt or worse (we had a newborn shoot where my son pooped all over ALL OF US) it can come in handy. Sometimes the photographer has a vision and it’s nice to have the option available. This year my son rolled around the mud early on in the shoot.
- Don’t go too matchy-matchy. I feel that we have been a little too coordinated the past two years. That’s because our original outfits didn’t pan out as planned. If it were up to me, Rob would be wearing a different colored shirt so that he and Landon wouldn’t both be in white shirts and denim. You know the matchy look I’m talking about…white button downs and khaki bottoms on everyone…or black tops on everyone with denim (Rob and I did that during my daughter’s newborn shoot. I think it took away from her, the exact opposite of what we were going for). Just. Don’t. Do. It.
- Pack a kit with wipes, sanitizer, safety pins, hairspray or gel, hair bands, etc. Oh and don’t forget the ibuprofen! I get so tense during these things worrying about the kids falling down a hill that I take prophylactic headache prevention measures.
Here are some of my favorite pictures and outtakes:
If you are in the Bay Area, check out our photographer, Karen Henrich with Custom Moments Photography, by clicking here. And just so you know, I was not compensated nor was I given a discount to share her information. I just really, really like her.