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Tips for a Great Holiday Family Photoshoot

The holidays is around the corner. And you subconsciously already look forward to real sweater weather and christmas songs and decorating the tree while you savor the current moment's obsession with pumpkin and cinnamon.

This year, you promised yourself you'll get it together with your christmas shopping and sending out your custom holiday cards on time with a Zen-like composure as you drop them off the mailbox pre-stamped.

Trust me, I GET you.

As I have the same plan of thoroughly enjoying the season stress free and not constantly trippin'.

SO, October is actually not insanely early to start your game plan.

I actually have a few families I regularly work with who have their holiday card photos taken around this time.

So I thought I'd compile a short list of basic preparations you can do to make this photo shoot a breeze. And in my best Yoda voice, "Relax and read, you will."

1. Location

It doesn't have to be a tourist attraction or Disneyland. What's more important is there's not a lot of people around (it'll take us forever to pick a spot without anybody in the background) and not a lot of things to distract the kids (if they're that age). So a nice park early in the morning or a semi deserted garden will be perfect. Even your house would work if you have a good space in front or in the backyard or even indoors though I prefer to take these photos outdoors for the great lighting it offers. A venue with some greenery or body of water would be cool. Nature never fails to put you at ease and is always a fabulous backdrop.

2. Rest

Make sure the kids (also yourself) have napped and are well rested. This is supposed to be a fun time for the family and you always look way better if you're well rested. You're alive and happy and full of energy to be silly and goof around.

3. Food

In the same line of thinking as number 2, bring some snacks and something to drink. A few tantrums result from an empty stomach (for kids and adults alike) so have some fruit or sandwiches and a bottle of water handy.

4. Comfortable Clothing

You can't naturally smile if your jeans are way too tight or you feel your skirt is too short or if you're too cold 'cause you forgot your sweater. Take note of the weather, time of day and the location and how your clothes fit before heading out. If I asked you to jump (I'm sure you've seen more than a few jumping shots I've taken, they're just FUN), make sure you can give it your all without worrying that I'll be seeing more than I should.

5. Themed Photo Shoot

You don't have to arrive as a family straight from The Walking Dead. Though if you're up for it, so am I, that actually sounds helllla cool. But if that's too extreme for your taste, just be matchy-matchy. I know, it's commonly cheesy but NEVER on a family photo shoot. It easily ties everything together and it could be as simple as everyone wearing a white top or everyone sporting something plaid. The options are endless. Basically, have something in common in your outfits.

6. Props

Aside from a tool to distract your kids with when they start to be bored, it adds a playful twist to the pictorial. A simple red balloon, a chalkboard sign with your last name on it or a banner that spells "Happy Holidays!", it doesn't cost much but adds tons of creativity to the photo shoot.

7. Relax and Be Silly

Last but I think most important is that everyone RELAX. My shoots are never stiff and we basically just hang out and talk and walk around and every now and then I ask you stop here and there for some quick shots. This is not a graduation picture or a corporate headshot. It's about familyand the beautiful holiday season. It's about spreading love and cheer, making memories and good times. So let loose, chill out. There's no perfect shot except for that shot where you're just plain having FUN.

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