“Smile, sweet baby girl.”
“Come on, precious, give mama a smile.”
“If you do not look at the camera and smile like you are happy, I will seriously consider canceling Christmas.”
Has the above scenario happened to you? You have dressed your child in Christmas finery, selected the most festive location in town and pulled out the camera to take the perfect Christmas card picture. Such a picture becomes the unattainable dream as little Johnnie and sweet Susie do anything BUT look at the camera and smile. They dig in the dirt, they pull at the bows on the Christmas tree, they fight with each other. They do nothing that is worthy of that iconic Christmas card photo.
This year, take a minute to plan your Christmas card photoshoot before pulling out the firly plaid dresses and dashing holiday sweater vests. Local photographer, Paige Pearson of P3 Photography (and mother of 3), has some tips on how to get kids to cooperate with having their pictures made this holiday season.
Be creative when posing children. Paige recommends using one’s creativity when trying to get children to focus on having their picture taken. Provide interesting reasons as to why the child should sit still, such as the fact that a magical fairy is behind her back with a wand full of fairy dust or that the child needs to be on the lookout for a funny bunny trying to jump into the picture and ruin the shot. Providing a fun place to sit also encourages children to be still for pictures. An old tricycle, a funky chair or an interesting rock are all unique and different places for children to pose for pictures. Not only do such things intrigue children, they also make for a great picture.
Do not say cheese! Many parents instruct their children to say “Cheese!” thinking it is the classic way to elicit a genuine smile. Most of the time they end up with a half-smile, half-grimace instead. Paige recommends NOT asking the child to say “Cheese” but rather engage the child in silly, funny dialog to get a smile. Make up funny songs, ask a outrageously silly question that only a child could appreciate or break out in a giggle-inducing dance. When the adult is not afraid to be silly, the child is more likely to flash a genuine smile.
Keep the wardrobe simple. Fussy designs, complicated logos and loud animal prints can distract from a photograph. Paige recommends that clothing for pictures is kept simple. However, she encourages people to stick with a style that is reflective of their personalities. People who tend to like a classic look are encouraged to go with more traditional clothing. Others who desire to express themselves with a bit more flair can perhaps go with an urban look, dressing in funky layers. Vests, leggings,hats and tutus are all a great way to express a trendy look for children without overloading the picture.
Location, location, location. Dallas/Fort Worth is full of great places to photograph children. Paige likes to use the natural backgrounds found at the Grapevine Springs Reservein Coppell, Southlake Towne Square and historic downtown Grapevine when photographing clients. Sometimes she finds impromptu places that would make a great picture, such as old barns or sunflower patches on the side of the road. She reminds parents who want to photograph children outside to be mindful of the sun. When shooting pictures with natural light, shade is much softer than direct sunlight and makes for a better picture. Morning and dusk are good times to take pictures outside. A perfect holiday setting with excellent light is Grapevine’s Gaylord Texan Hotel and Resort. Although professional photographers are generally not allowed to snap pictures there, parents are more than welcome to capture their little ones on film amidst all the holiday decorations.
Try out a few of this tricks and see if your Christmas card is a bit more “Norman Rockwell” this year as opposed to something that appears to be a reject of Clark Griswold.