How to take amazing family photos for your holiday cards (and save money, too!)
It may seem crazy that we are talking about family photo shoots and holiday cards right at the beginning of the summer, but we promise we haven’t lost our minds. We know that busy moms and dads are just embarking into the summer – a time filled with soccer games, summer camps, picnic lunches, family vacations, and fun. Before we know it, we’ll blink and it will be time for Back to School planning, one more blink and it’s the holiday season. Seriously, where does the time go?
So, you see, we aren’t crazy! We want to help you take advantage of the great weather, have fun with your family, and get ahead of those pesky wonderful holiday cards way before the last minute rush. We will also help alleviate stress in the pocketbook, as we pepper this guide with money saving and sanity-saving tips.
Feel free to print the guide out and keep it in your pocket, (alright, we don’t expect you to keep it in your pocket), and pull it out when family picture day comes around. We worked with our friends over at Shutterfly to provide you with an exclusive deal – 20% off list price order – and extra special tips so you can be sure your cards will be the glowing centerpiece of your family and friend’s refrigerators this holiday season. For 20% off, use code SAHSAVE20, now through September 30, 2016!
In this guide, you will find tips on:
- Planning your family photo shoot
- Tips on keeping everyone happy and smiling on the day of your photos
- Money –saving and budget friendly hints each step of the way
- Special Shutterfly holiday card design tips, along with discount details
So, let’s get started!
Preparation and Planning – Great Photos Make Great Holiday Cards
First things first, you’ll need to start by picking your photographer, or enlisting a friend or family member to help. Maybe you have a trusted photographer that you’ve used year after year, or maybe this will be your first time. If you fall into the latter category, finding a photographer can be a bit daunting; it practically feels like online dating. You want a great match! Here are a few tips on how to find a photographer you will love:
- Look at the pictures they’ve taken (duh) – find a photographer who regularly shoots a style you are looking for.
- Ask around! Did you love your friend’s holiday card last year? Ask who did it. Sharing photographers is a good idea, and you or your friend may receive a referral discount or extra prints!
- Meet up with the photographer and talk about their style, and your family. It’s much better to have a discussion and set the tone than going on a blind-photo-date.
- Look at holiday card designs on Shutterfly before your photo shoot – pick a few of your favorites and share them with the photographer ahead of time. This way you will have the proper cropping in mind before taking the shots.
Next you need to book the date – think of Halloween as the absolute latest you should take the photo. If you choose a date in the middle of the summer, schedule the photos for morning or evening so that you aren’t hot and uncomfortable. And, of course, we can never predict the weather, but at least we can account for it in our planning. Make sure you have a “Plan B” photo location for any weather that may dampen your photo session, pardon the pun.
As you get closer to your photo date, start to think about your outfits and any themes you want to shoot. Some families love to match in all white or denim pants and black tops, while others prefer to coordinate. Look at family photo images online – Pinterest is a great resource for this, to determine what style speaks to you. Additionally, you may want to incorporate a theme into your photos. We had fun coming up with a few ideas to consider:
- A few of our favorite things – each family member holds a prop that shows their personality, like a soccer ball, favorite book, chef’s hat and apron, or smart phone (raise your hand if you have teens!)
- Holiday – you don’t have to be overtly holiday themed in your photo, but many people want to infuse the entire card with a holiday vibe. Consider bringing a favorite holiday decoration, a string of lights, or some mistletoe and taking a few holiday themed shots if you love this look for your holiday cards. Make sure you take non-holiday photos as well, to save the cost of multiple photo sessions when it’s time for portraits that hang on the wall year-round.
- Incorporate silly props – Show off your family’s fun personality with silly hats, moustaches, tutus, and other props that will get everyone laughing and smiling. Genuine smiles make for the best pictures, so even if you don’t incorporate silly props, make sure to have fun and keep the photo session light hearted.
Money Saving Tip: Go “shopping” in your own closets. Limit buying an entire new outfit for everyone in the family – stick to purchasing only accessories or tops if you want to get something new. If you do decide to buy new clothes – choose from the list of great retail stores at ShopAtHome.com for great deals and Cash Back. Have a backup plan for weather (if you are planning on outdoor photos).
The Family Photo Shoot Timeline
Now that you have the session booked, the outfits and photo themes picked out, and a great plan of action with your photographer, we’ve put together a special guide for the day of your photo shoot. These tips are geared towards keeping the whole family happy, cooperative, and excited. The goal here is to make family photos a fun thing, not a chore that everyone grumbles about. We’re realists, and we know that nothing ever goes exactly to plan, but having a plan can sure help keep us on track.
- Start out with a calm and happy morning. Get a good breakfast into everyone as a great foundation for the day. Make sure you pack snacks to avoid “hangry” meltdowns!
- Money Saving Tip: Plan to eat breakfast at home and pack snacks and/or lunch to eat during the photo shoot. If you are going to be outside in a park, make it a fun picnic break instead of rushing to a fast food or sit down restaurant. This could even be incorporated into the photo shoot!
- Make sure everyone knows the timeline – get moving to get out the door at least an hour before you actually need to leave. #momlife
- Think about it like you would plan for a small trip. Get everything “packed” and ready the night beforehand to make your day much less stressful!
- Have outfits picked out and agreed upon by the kids so there are no wardrobe meltdowns as you’re trying to get out the door
- Consider a fun reward as an incentive for good behavior after the photos. Maybe the family can take a trip to the favorite ice cream shop if everyone cooperates. Make sure this is communicated from the start, so everyone is on-board and at their best behavior
- Have fun! Be silly, authentic, and enjoy your photo shoot. Laugh, joke, and play with your kids for fabulous photos that truly reflect your lives. If you want posed photo portraits, they will be much more relaxed if you take some breaks for playing and enjoying one another
Tips for Printing Your Holiday Cards and Sharing Your Photos
Money Saving Tip: Save money by using coupons and getting cash back when you shop Shutterfly through ShopAtHome.com. We are excited to offer a special 20% Shutterfly coupon to our members using code SAHSAVE20.
We got together with our friends at Shutterfly to share more than savings with you – they are experts at design and photo memories, so here are a couple of “pro tips” to make your holiday cards the best yet!
Shutterfly Pro Tip: Let your family’s personality and style shine through the card design you choose. There are style choices for everyone. (This section will incorporate the visual examples provided by Shutterfly):
- Black and White
- Hanukah styles
- New Year cards
Shutterfly Pro Tip: Order your photo gifts for the holidays at the same time you order your cards – get ahead of holiday shopping! Grandparents and extended family members love personalized gifts like:
- Large prints in frames that go with their decor
- Family photo calendars
- Coffee mugs
Shutterfly Pro Tip: Spend some time making sure your images are cropped and sized perfectly. Graphics can spill over into the photo, and you don’t want a snowflake or the apostrophe in “Season’s Greetings” to obscure anyone’s face. Study your proof very carefully before making your final order and you will be sure to squeal with delight when your orange box arrives with plenty of time for addressing and (extra credit) writing a personalized message to each recipient. Don’t worry; we won’t judge you if that doesn’t actually happen.
See? That Was Easy!
Now, instead of a frenzy right during the stressful back to school season, you can plan for your family holiday photo cards while saving money and sanity in the process. We hope this guide will help you and your family, and are wondering – what tips did we leave off? Is there anything you would add? Please share your own tips in the comment section – and don’t forget to save extra money on your Shutterfly cards with this coupon code: SAHSAVE20.