Tips on Photographing Children for the Holiday Card


It is that time of year again!  With Thanksgiving coming there’s one thing that’s front and center in my mind (other than side dishes and what pie to bake): the family holiday photo.  I love my husband dearly but in years past I swear we’ve almost came to blows over how to get a holiday photo of our squirmy tots with our classic “miss the moment” camera!  Photographing children requires A LOT of patience, especially when we aim high and want great family portraits for “the card”.  This week, guest blogger Ryan Brown, a professional portrait photographer based in New York City (and dad to an awesome 10 year old boy) gives us some practical tips for taking pictures of kids.

Tips on Photographing Children for the Holiday Card

5 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Smile for the Family Holiday Photo

1.Schedule your photo shoot just prior to a fun event or outing. Kids are more likely to behave, focus, and smile for a picture if they know that doing so will get them sooner to that special event, like a holiday party or a visit with Santa.  Making sure that everyone has a full tummy — just not full of sugar — will speed things up even more.

2.Involve your kids in the process. Kids love gadgets, and cameras fascinate them. Before asking your children to pose for pictures, give them the camera and allow them to fire away at you. Hey, it’s not like they’re burning film anymore and they just might surprise you. This can often result in a beautifully artistic (…er…accidentally artistic…) candid shot of mom and dad.

3.Have fun with the self-timer. Just about every camera these days comes with a self-timer (which delays the shutter release for a few seconds, allowing the shooter to join his subjects in the frame). Align the shot yourself, then allow your children to press the button. You may have a few ‘misfires’ but your children will enjoy the mad dash from the camera to the subject space. It will keep them engaged, burn some energy, and, let’s admit it, our children can probably make it into frame with much more speed and agility than we can.  When kids are this invested in the process, it’s their photo not just yours and you’re more likely to get a big, engaged smile.

4.Don’t get hung up on poses. Let’s face it: posed holiday portraits are so, dare I say it, our generation. So if the posing thing isn’t going well, let it go. More often than not, a good candid shot of your children laughing or dipping their noses into the eggnog makes for a much more interesting photo than the standard cardboard-cutouts-in-front-of-the-mantel theme.

5.Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to get rattled and frustrated when trying to get that perfect holiday shot of our kids.  Remember: there is no perfect holiday shot; rather, there is only capturing your family in magic moments.  And that sort of thing can’t be planned. Our children are very perceptive. If we’re stressed, they pick up on it and act out accordingly. So keep your cool…and don’t be afraid to spike the ‘parental’ bowl of eggnog.

What approach to you take with family photos?  Share your tips below!

Ryan BrownYou can visit Ryan Brown on Facebook or check out his website.  If you’re looking for a photographer for a special occasion, Ryan’s a great choice because he’s terrific with kids and a pleasure to have at any special family event.  (Full disclosure: I’m extremely biased since Ryan took photos at Lachie’s First Communion that we will treasure forever.)

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to check back for more! xo