Christmas Cards 101 for Photographers

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… Ok, you get the point. Think of this as, Christmas Cards 101, for photographers. I thought I’d share some photography tips, before Kris Kringle drops by.

So last week, I had the opportunity to do a family shoot, just in time for the holidays. Now, I know what you’re thinking, San Diego, on the beach, white shirts and blue jeans, ha. No, actually quite the opposite! As a San Diego photographer, I try to discourage, what my former instructor used to call, “matchy, matchy”! I know it’s tough, with the holiday season to find the most God awful holiday sweater to force the entire family to wear one, just for the purpose of the traditional “Christmas card”. Sorry, I don’t think I can say that, I think we have to go with “Seasonal Card”. Ah, much better! But really, do you want to follow the herd, or would you rather do your own thing and not follow the pack. Here some tips that should help you out:

Location, location, location! I hope that sunk in. The client may have an idea of the perfect location, for his or her shoot, but it is your job to offer other suggestions. Keep in mind; you may have to enforce your authority. (** Key note: Remember to scout the location, ahead of time to make sure that the lighting is perfect. **)
One of my favorites phrases, “Be Prepared”. Clean and inventory your equipment the day before. You don’t want to arrive on location, just to find out that your lenses have seen better days or that you forgot to bring extra batteries. Remember you never know what will go wrong.
Need a little something, something? Use a flash! No one says you can’t use the flash during the day, as a fill light. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.
Catch some Zzz’s! No, I’m not saying to take a nap, but advise the client to get ample sleep, you don’t want to spend hours reviving the undead, by clearing bags and crow’s feet.
MAKE UP! Make sure that everyone looks his or her best, with both hair and make-up. Allow the client a few extra minutes time, for composure. If you have an assistant, bring him or her. If you don’t, get one. Not only can they help with the client’s appearance, they can make sure that everyone is focused on you, while you’re focused on composing their perfect shot.
Don’t forget to have fun! As you can imagine, the holidays can be a stressful time for everyone and it usually kicks off with the family Christmas portrait. Remember to be professional, but also lighten the mood when necessary.
I hope I have not bored you too much. I had a lot of fun writing this one like all of my blogs. I trust I have given you some valuable tips to think about, before planning your next shoot. It’s not all bad, just be clear and informative, it will save you a lot of headaches. Remember nothing is set in stone and there is not a perfect formula, so go out and have some fun.