By Jovee in Natick, MA

Some of you are humming your favorite holiday jingle and already thinking
about the reaction your friends & family will have upon recieving
those ADORABLE cards this year… while others are dreading the runny
noses, loaded schedule, and impossible parking that come along with
the season. Whether you’re already wearing bells and thinking about
Thanksgiving dinner or more on the Grinch’s end of the holiday spirit
scale, yes…. it’s that time of year!

Holiday portraits can be both an exciting and a daunting event in anyone’s
family. You may be bringing in your 6-month old to document your first
Christmas together as a family, or you may be coming in as a troop to get
that miracle portrait of all sixty cousins for Grandma. Whatever it may be,
you have a good idea in mind, and you know we’ll fly to the moon and back
to achieve the desired result. There are things we’ve learned over
the years–things we’ve seen lots of Moms do–that can make it a stress-free
(and even fun) experience for the whole family.

By Vanessa at the Natick Collection

1. Get your kids excited! During the weeks and days leading up to the big day, give your photography session a positive connotation. Talk about how they get to see themselves on the screen, or the special prize that they get if they do a good job. If you think about the event with anxiety and horror, so will they. Yes, there is a very important goal in mind–to get that perfect shot–but it’s also time you spend together as a family. It should be fun. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they are.. and relaxed kids are excellent models!

2. Avoid naptime. When you’re booking an appointment that involves toddlers, it’s worth it to avoid that time of day when you enter the twilight zone and your toddler morphs from the sweet little munchkin your raised into that wild-eyed tantrum-beast you don’t recognize. Most of the time, you just can’t mess with nature.. and your session will go a lot smoother if the kids are awake and alert.

3. Set your clock ahead 10-15 minutes. Well, ok–you don’t have to go to that extreme, but always plan to be early. During the holidays, remember Murphy’s law–there will be traffic, you won’t be able to find parking, and the elevator will be broken. If you’re running early, there’s no reason to stress over those silly things…. and you’ll have plenty of time to change your kids before the photo shoot!

4. Don’t be afraid of the camera. It is not something to be feared. It is something to be admired and celebrated! It can take a single moment in your life and make it last forever. Let it. You may not have expected to be in any of the portraits.. but we don’t charge extra for additional poses, so while you’re here.. why not? Wouldn’t it be great to have memories of not only your kids at this age, but your whole family too? Or, maybe you DID plan on being in the pictures but you’re worried about your hair, the drool stain on your sweater, or the big scratch mark on your baby’s nose.. Again: the less you worry, the happier you look, and the glow of a happy moment can overcome any imperfect detail in a picture. Plus, we do a magical little thing called retouching!

5. Take off the shoes and stay awhile! As adorable as they are in that holiday-cheer-from-head-to-toe outfit, sometimes your child or toddler will be sitting down for a pose or two.. and chances are, the bottoms of their feet will be facing the camera. Bare piggies look so much cuter than the bottoms of shoes (which can be distracting and, well, unsightly). On a similar note, babies up to 9 or even 12 months old look adorable in just their their birthday suits. Try a few poses in their diaper or a diaper cover. They have great skin, and most babies are more comfortable that way anyhow!

6. Call as early as possible! Most of our studios are completely booked solid this time of year.. often a week in advance, sometimes 2 or 3 weeks! It’s never too early. Get it out of the way now. We’ll call you 2 days prior to the appointment as a reminder, and if you need to cancel or reschedule, of course you can (at no charge).

7. Bring the survival kit. Here are some things I would include in my portrait survival kit:
-Extra clothes
-Snacks, toys, or a helper to take them out for a walk while you pick out your photos–this will allow you to focus on making your decision rather than keeping them happy and under control. (Keep the snacks hidden until after the photo shoot!)
-Personal items (like a favorite blankie or toy) you may want in the pictures
-Tissues or wet wipes (for boogers & drool)
-A comb and some water (for that wintery static cling!)
-Lint roller (if you don’t have any, we usually do)
-Diaper bag
-Bleach pen (for stains–they really work! I use the one from Clorox)

Of course, you can customize the list for your individual family’s needs.

8. Express yourself. If you have a particular idea in mind, voice it! Our photographers are ready and willing to listen, and do all they can to create what you want.. but they can’t do it if you want something particular and you leave it a mystery. Also, tell them anything else they should know–one of your kids is a little shy at first, they don’t like the “tickle stick,” or you’re really hoping to show off that outfit because it was a gift from Grandma.

9. Pick out your cards before you come in. If you really don’t like making decisions in the studio, we now post our entire selection of holiday cards on our website, in the card and border gallery! This way, you can check out our selection in the comfort and quiet of your own home. The cards have the same name on the website as they do in the studio, so ordering can be as quick and easy as you want. If you’re looking for more detailed pricing, send us a message or give us a call and we’d be happy to fill you in.

10. Personalize. Maybe your toddler has a favorite song, or your kids have a favorite game.. or your teenager does a great impression of J-Lo. All of these things can break the ice and make the difference between a pouty portrait and a fun one that truly represents your personality as a family.. and that’s what portraits are all about!


Happy Snapping!