One of my favorite parts of the holiday season doesn’t involve the gifts, food, and all the craziness. What I look forward to, is keeping in touch with family and friends. And one way we do this is by sharing holiday cards! I love sending pics showing how much my kiddos have grown. And I really enjoy seeing all of the other family’s in our life- how much their kids have grown, the new additions since last year, and even the family animals that make it into the photos.
We have started a regular tradition of having a professional photographer (and now friend) take our photos each Fall. I love being able to look over the photos every year and look back on the different stages the kids were in. You don’t have spend a lot of money to capture wonderful images and have the keepsake of the different places you are in each year. A friend or family member might be willing to help or even set up a tripod to capture the moments!
To capture great photos (both classic and silly), no matter who the photographer is, I think it comes down to a great location, and a coordinated look. For a location, I have found that being outside in natural light, captures the best photographs. Over the years we have picked a range of places from parks in the country to historic sights in the city. My favorites have been the locations with rustic structures and interesting backgrounds like old buildings or water sources. This year, we chose the historic Valley Forge Park in Valley Forge, PA. What a place! Beautiful fields, rustic buildings, old stone walls, a wooden bridge over a stream- so many great photo ops.
Once I think of a location, I work on coordinating outfits. I usually don’t look for exactly the same item or print for us to wear. But rather colors or prints that compliment each other and pop in the photos. This year I was focused on a color scheme and was deciding between navy and green, red and black, and white and black. My go-to store/online retailer for family outfits has been the Gap Brands year after year. I find that they have so many trendy and classic styles and colors to choose from, that I have lots of options to work with between the brands to find the perfect look.
I always look for the kid’s outfits first. I find they are the hardest to land on for style and price. So by focusing on them first, I find it much easier to pair back the grown up outfits since ours are usually more classic items (hopefully that we already own or mostly own!) After looking at all of the options online, I selected the navy and green color theme. We are a very casual family so I like our outfits to reflect that. We are always in jeans for the most part. But I love having my daughter dress up in a pretty dress (while she will still wear one) to make the photos look a little more special than our day-to-day. I found this adorable navy dress with bright colored embroidery from Gap. It has a nice pop of color but still neutral being grounded in navy. When I saw the green and navy plaid shirt from Old Navy, I envisioned that they could work really well together.
Here are the outfit details for the kids (affiliate links):
Once I have the kids all taken care of, then it’s easier to decide on the outfits for the grownups. Since I grounded the looks in navy, I knew both my husband and I would wear navy tops or sweaters. Keeping the casual look, we both paired them with jeans. Then to keep overall look of being more casual with our outdoor setting, we picked tan/light brown shoes so they wouldn’t stand out too much.
Here are the outfit details for the grown ups (affiliate links):
I usually do a quick lay down as a double check that all the items will go together like this:
Once I feel good about the options then I just let the rest go and trust our photographer! When the kids were little, I stressed so much about getting the perfect shot, if they would smile, and if we would all look good in the same photo! But now over the years I’ve learned to just enjoy the moment! Like so many other moments and stages, you can’t control it all. And if you try to (at least for me), the fun is all gone. Documenting these family moments isn’t just about a good looking holiday card, but also about enjoying having fun and being silly all together. The amazing photos are just the extra bonus!
I hope you enjoy capturing the photos with your family- whatever that looks like to you. Just enjoy being together!
Here is the final product! And of course our other favorite family member had to join in the pic:)