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15 Tips for Taking StressFree Family Holiday Photos

By Janssen Bradshaw,

Over the weekend, the stars finally aligned and we went out with our little girls to take our holiday card photos.

I was really happy with how they turned out, and thought I'd share some of my tips for making the event easy, quick, and non-stressful for both the parents and the children.

Here are a few secrets to getting a holiday-card-worthy shot with little ones:

#1: Go somewhere they like

For our photo shoot this year, we picked our neighborhood park which has tall gorgeous trees. Our girls love going here, and it is familiar and comfortable for them, which made it a great place to take photos.

#2: Give them something to hold

I brought along some gold Christmas ornaments that I didn't mind showing up in the photos. It kept their hands busy and didn't ruin the photos.

#3: Embrace the hilarious photos

Although this isn't one I'd send out on our Christmas card, I love this photo so much!

#4: Don't worry too much about them looking at the camera

Every time we tried to get our kid to look at the camera, we ended up with winners like this. When we let them play and be more natural, the photos were full of smiles and the faces we know and love.

#5: Get in, get out

This is not the time for hours of photo taking. Be as quick as possible - little kids don't have a lot of tolerance for hours of smiling!

#6: Give your kids a break

While we took couple shots, we gave our kids a break from looking at the camera and let them swing on the swings and run around a bit. This gave them a second wind for another round of photos.

#7: Go right after naps

This is a time where you'll want your kids as well rested as possible. Lots of photographers like to shoot in the evening as the light is going down, but that might be hard with little ones who are quickly approaching bedtime. Try to schedule your shoot for right after naps when everyone is at their most pleasant.

#8: Be a good sport

It's easy to get frustrated, but as the parent you need to keep things light and happy. This goofy face my husband pulled made me laugh when I saw it on the camera display and lightened the mood.

#9: Have back-up plans

If you cannot get your kids to cooperate for a group photo, try something else instead, whether it's reading a book as a family in front of the camera, swinging on the swings, or playing a game of tag.

#10: Keep Smiling

The children smiling are the wildcards. Which means as the parents, you need to be smiling for as many photos as possible.

#11: Bring some non-messy snacks

If you bring along some treats for bribery, make sure they aren't messy. Avoid things like graham crackers or other things that can smear all over their hands and faces or drip on their clothes. (I find fruit snacks very clean, easy, and enticing!)

#12: Choose non-fussy clothing

The last thing you need is to have your kids be uncomfortable and itchy - pick clothes they can move in easily and don't need to be adjusted for every picture.

#13: Recognize you only need 1-2 good photos

Everything else is a bonus!

#14: Get EVERYTHING set up before you bring in the children

Whether you're taking the photos or you have a photographer, wait until all the equipment is set up and you are 100% ready to start snapping pictures before you bring the kids in front of the camera. You've got a small window and you don't want to waste it fiddling with dials.

#15: You'll be glad you have them

No matter how your photos turn out - goofy faces and all - you'll be glad you have them. Even if they aren't what you envisioned, they'll be a sweet reminder of your family at one moment in time.

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