Taking Good Pictures of your Kids – An Impossible Feat?

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, I am searching for a good picture of my kids and family to use for our annual holiday photo card.  It was a beautiful fall day with such colorful leaves all around our neighborhood, so I tried snapping a few pictures on a walk with my kids. Here’s how I did with my camera phone:

my photo shoot yesterday

Trying to get two kids smiling at the same time, while looking at the camera is NO small feat.

My daughter is generally more cooperative for taking pictures, but we’ve done so many “funny face” shots that EVERY time I take a picture now, there has to be at least one funny one.

My son was making nearly EVERY picture a funny face one.  And yes, dear 3 year old boy, they are funny.  Maybe, just maybe, a funny face shot will make it into our Christmas card.

Here are some other picture options. Which ones are your favorites?

Someday I would like to have professional pictures taken, but my husband is still a bit put-off by the idea after one bad experience. The photographer took pictures of us in a lovely setting – along the lakefront and in front of some trees. My daughter was almost 3 and my son just turned 1. Here was my own snapshot before the photo shoot started later than our scheduled time thanks to the photographer’s tardiness.

my snapshots before our professional photo shoot

2 years ago – my own snapshots before our professional photography shoot

Brilliant blue sky, aqua blue shimmering lake, sand, we could check every box in the “Ideal Setting” category.  And take pictures our photographer did! We had THOUSANDS of options to review. It was overwhelming and time consuming at his home (aka not the most convenient for us, being parent of two kids under age 3). The family pictures of all four of us were just weird-looking too.  We looked so posed and stiff – not at all our style. None of them were that great.

There were SO many good ones of our daughter.  She was running, holding flowers, smiling….just being her cute, almost three year old self.

Our son was another story. He was just little, and it was dinnertime (though we had snacks before), and we barely got a smile out of him.  We found one picture that we liked of him.

We had “won” the gift certificate for the photographer’s services as part of our church’s silent auction.  Somehow, according to his crazy pricing, we did not receive much in way of print-credit.  He had this complex pricing matrix and wanted us to join his family plan, so there would be numerous photo sessions through the years. Given that we hated the family pictures, it was NOT for us.  We finally ended up buying two 8×10 portraits, one of each child, and paid a hundred+ for them. They are now hanging in our living room, where they shall be forever & ever. Amen.

Whenever I mention the idea of getting professional pictures taken to Daddy O., he bristles in reply, thinking of our bad experience. I guess I have to resort to my photo archives or quick snap my own pictures for this year’s card anyway.  Hopefully these photo card options can make my pictures look good!

Have you ever been disappointed by professional photographers? How do you take  pictures for holiday cards?

My Weapon Against Holiday Busyness – Advance Planning!

As I have mentioned before, I am type-A leaning, so I value efficiency, organization, and planning. With my daughter in 4 year old kindergarten, our lives have certainly adopted a quicker pace week in and week out.  To stay ahead and not get overwhelmed, I always try to think ahead. I’m that person buying Christmas presents in July, picking up birthday party favors weeks in advance, and recording important dates and to-do’s in my planner.

My weapon against holiday busyness IS simple – Advance Planning!

As many of you have noticed, the holidays are ALREADY upon us. I’ve seen a mix of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in stores lately.  YIKES! I do have a few gifts in hand, so I don’t expect to have a hectic, last-minute shopping season, which is SO not my style. Daddy O., on the other hand, is a different story, but that’s his deal!

Similarly, I often start looking at holiday card options this time of year.  I enjoy trying to find a good family picture to share in our annual holiday card. I love the old-fashioned tradition of sending and receiving cards.  It’s something that social media just can’t replace.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new holiday card source this year.  It’s a site called Minted. What I love is that it is an independent design community, so think small, talented, independent designers who have their works voted on and sold through Minted. This means my card won’t be like every other one I receive.  It will be unique!

This quick video is a cool intro to Minted.  Many moms (either working or staying at home) are also designers, pursuing their passion and submitting their work to the design challenges on Minted.  This community of designers (similar to the blogosphere) delivers beautiful, award winning design.

Moms pursuing their passions – hmm…sounds familiar. And yes, I’d like to support that community!  I bought my daughter’s Halloween costume from Etsy (an Elsa dress), and it seems that Minted is a sort of Etsy of cards, art, and decor.

The number of choices is a bit overwhelming, but I managed to find a few favorites.

Minted Watercolor Bunting Holiday Card

Love this Watercolor Bunting at the top of the card! There is also a gold foil, shiny option.

Being a proud Sconnie, or Wisconsin native, I like the idea of this card, but I don’t like that Wisconsin was covered up.  Daddy O. and I did, however, once call Pittsburgh home.  This COULD have been our card then when it was just the two of us! There is also a West Coast version of this card, but I think Wisconsin was covered up in that one too.  Bummer – this option is not for us.

Minted Holiday Map Holiday Card

Fun way to show off where you live in a holiday card.

I was drawn to the fun lettering on these cards.

I am not sure what family pictures I have to include in this year’s card, so I may have to get creative with multiple photos on one card.  Here were some multiple photo options that caught my eye:

Minted Holiday Collage Photo Card

A card with multiple pictures may work best for our family.

My family isn’t too big on super heros, but I someday we may be.  When that is the case, we’ll use a card like this:

Minted Comic Book Holiday Card

You could really have fun with this card’s comic book style!

Certainly professional photographers’ pictures are far superior to my own snapshots, and I’m having a little picture envy just looking at all these lovely cards used on the site.  In the spirit of advance planning, here are some tips on how to get a great family picture for holiday cards by Heather Lee on Julep. She recommends having pictures taken now and having a photo card in mind, so the photographer can compose the shot correctly.  Good tips!

For our own card, I’ll try my best to snap some good pictures within the next few weeks or use what we have.  I think these two cards are my top holiday card contenders:

Next step – playing on Minted with some of these cards and my pictures.  Stay tuned to see which pictures and what card I choose!

This was a sponsored post, but the opinions expressed were my own. Photography by Minted.