Picture Perfect Holiday Photos: first installment

By Shawna Even if you’re an office-dwelling hermit and don’t see the decorations up at the stores and the ads on TV, it’s hard to fail to notice: CHRISTMAS is coming!  (And Chanukah, and the Winter Solstice; Diwali is already here!)   Those of us that celebrate Christmas and have young children know that this is the perfect excuse to foist pictures of our beautiful offspring onto all the relatives and friends that must be dying for an up-to-date pic to replace that one that’s gotten grimy on their fridge over the last year.  After all, it’s not just accepted, it’s expected.  And with the proliferation of high-quality, low-cost digital cameras and free photo software, it’s never been cheaper or easier to do.   If you’re like most parents of young kids, you probably have hundreds of photos on your hard drive to choose from.  And, if you’re like me, that probably won’t stop you from trying to take “the” Christmas photo again this year.  You know the one: every person in the picture dressed in something nice, smiling, and looking at the camera.  And while that is a lovely goal, well, let’s just say it’s not bad to have a Plan B.   (And maybe C.)   (D wouldn’t hurt either.)   So, if the photo session involving you setting the timer on your camera and dashing to get into the frame didn’t turn out, here are some other ideas:   Idea #1  Individual photos of each child. The more kids you’ve got, the harder it is to get them all smiling at the same time.  There’s nothing wrong with taking photos of them one at a time.  Photo printing isn’t very expensive these days and I’m sure Grandma and Grandpa would be thrilled to get more than one picture.   Idea #2 Collage time. With the most utterly basic of software – much of which is available free online – you can stitch several photos together.  Sure it’s a bit Brady Bunch to have rows and columns of smiling faces, but hey, everyone looks good and you can throw in shots of pets or seasonal items to fill any spots that would otherwise be blank.   Idea #3 Take advantage of friends. We all know someone who likes to take pictures and would be flattered to be asked to take some of your family for the Christmas card, so ask already.  They might have more luck than you at capturing everyone’s attention when it’s needed. 

If you’re lucky enough to be attending a wedding with your family at this time of year, you may be able to hit the jackpot – just wait for a lull after all the “official” photographs are taken, then ask the photographer “Hey, can we get one of the group of us?” and then make sure your friend sends you a copy after the wedding.  It’ll be a good photo (or should be if they’re shooting a wedding), and you’ll even all be dressed up for it!   Idea #4 If all else fails, use what you’ve got. There’s no rule saying a photo has to be Christmas-themed.  Halloween, beach vacation shots… all are fair game.  Peruse your already-taken photos from the last few months (the only rule is that it has to be more recent than the one you sent last Christmas, right?).  Do you see a good one of you all?  Or at least of all the kids?  (Let’s face it, while it’s great for us to have a photo-record of ourselves for ourselves, we stopped being the most important ones the day our first kid was born.)  Chances are, when there was no pressure on achieving the “perfect” photo, a beautiful one happened naturally.  After all, the best photos are the ones that show you’re happy during the normal course of your life, not the ones which prove you can smile on demand.

Tune in for later posts on the theme of family Christmas photos.  Our intrepid Kids in the Capital bloggers will be talking about some great places/ways to take them, as well as what to do with your pics once you’ve selected the one(s) you want to use!

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  Christmas is her favourite holiday!