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Ten Ways to Get the Best Holiday Portraits by Karen Haberberg

It’s hard to believe that fall is already upon us, which means the holiday season is right around the corner. Tis the season of holiday cards, family portraits and reconnecting with old friends, family and colleagues! What better way to touch base than with a holiday portrait of your beautiful family?

Here are ten ways to create a holiday card that will wow your friends and family.

1. Have your kids do something they love. You always get the best results if you shoot them “happy” – be it playing in the park, or enjoying a big colorful lollipop.

2. Capture natural expressions. Saying “cheese” gets you just that.

3. Be creative. Photograph your subject from a variety of angles & distances. Don’t be afraid to try a birds eye view where you photograph your subject from above and a worms eye view where you photograph your subject from down low. I like to photograph babies while lying on the ground in front of them.

4. Location matters! When choosing a location, be sure to assess the background. It shouldn’t be too busy or distracting. Make sure when you are photographing your family that there is nothing extending out of their heads like a tree trunk.

5. Understand your equipment. Read your manual so that you can achieve your technical and artistic goals. For example, you may want to have a shallow depth of field so the background looks soft and doesn’t compete with the subject matter. To do this you will need to use a wide aperture and zoom in from farther away.

6. Lighting is key! Find the direction of your light source and place your subject accordingly. I prefer to photograph portraits when the sun is low; either early in the morning or late in the day. At noon the sun is above your head and your image can end up with a lot of harsh shadows. To mitigate this effect, you can use a flash to fill in shadows around the eyes and the rest of the face.

7. Timing is everything. Make sure kids are well rested and fed. Bring snacks, a drink, a change of clothes, and hairbrush or comb. A cranky kid is hard to photograph. Be patient and wait for the right moment to press the shutter – even if that moment comes on a different day. It also helps to have another adult on the scene. It’s tough trying to be a successful parent and photographer at the same time!

8. Bring props. Props are great to incorporate into the photograph. Here are a few of my favorites: balloons, balls, hats, scarves, bows, tutus, lollipops, bubbles and any toys that may excite him/her.

9. Choose your photographer wisely. Always view their website to see if you like their style and vision before contacting them. Make sure to discuss location, wardrobe, best time of day for shooting, and if you have any specific ideas for location, props, or poses. Don’t be shy to express your needs. Remember, these are your photographs everlasting memories.

I recommend using a small boutique photography business, like mine, that is well regarded, rather than a large studio or storefront. Small businesses tend to put a lot of time and emphasis on building rapport with clients and provide a more personalized experience.

10. Have fun! If you want to sign up for a photography class with Karen Haberberg to learn about portrait photography click here.

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