10 tips for holiday portraits at home

Unwrapping the wonder of the season.

As the holidays arrive, so does the opportunity to capture the magic of the season … especially for those of us with children and grandchildren. If you are not having professional portraits made, I encourage you to take them yourself. Here are my top 10 ways to create the best holiday photos (no matter who takes them):

1. Location: Choose a favorite spot at home: the chair where you read to your children, the fireplace or in front of the tree.

2. Timing: Young children are usually morning people, while teenagers prefer a slightly later time. For a successful session, allow plenty of time and work with their schedules.

3. Clothing: Keep it simple and fun! The choice is yours. You can dress up and go glam, since you may not get a chance to go anywhere fancy this season. Or snuggle up in pajamas, if that has been your uniform for most of this year.

4. Action: Give your children something to do and photograph them doing it. Hold hands, look out the window for Santa, tell each other secrets, wrap presents ... so many options.

5. Get in close: No need to include the whole room in every photo. Their happy faces should say it all.

6. Expressions: Genuine expressions, happy or gentle, are everything. Tell jokes, ask silly questions, or sing a song to get past the fake smile syndrome.

7. Include everyone: Yes, Moms and Dads, you should be in there too. Years from now, when your children look at the photos, they should see their parents having fun with them. This is especially important if one parent takes all the photos and never appears in them. (Yes, this is the voice of experience.)

8. Groups and individuals: You may not have extended family together this year, but try taking each child individually, the kids together, and with parents. The breakdowns often become the favorites.

9. Home for the holidays: On the big day, use a series to tell the story. Wide shots of decorated rooms remind of Christmas past. Then get in close to capture happy faces as gifts are opened and thank you hugs are given. (See Tip #7.) A sleeping child holding a favorite toy is the perfect way to end a holiday album.

10. Have fun! Don’t worry about getting that "perfect" photo. You want a record of the way things really are, outtakes and all. And don’t just leave those pictures on the phone or in the cloud. Select your favorites and have them printed, so they can be enjoyed decades from now, when technology has changed and our discs and drives are outdated.

Katie Garlock

Chicago to Ohio to DC and now at home in Westlake. Professional Photographer for decades. Love my job and my new hometown!

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 10:02 AM, 12.01.2020