Hey mama! You’ve made it! You’ve survived 2016 so far, and Christmas is at our doorstep. Are you ready for it? While our Christmas tree has been up since before Thanksgiving (proof here), I feel like I’m always trying to scramble to do the cookie baking, ornament making, tree trimming, and all while photographing it all…. you know, because I’m a photographer and my camera might as well be surgically attached around my neck. But how do you juggle capturing all of the activities, all of the smiles, all of the emotions, and all of the details during the holidays? Today I’m counting down my top five holiday photo priorities, and how I create a solid camera-life balance (yes, it’s a thing) during the holidays.
5. make a shot list
When it comes to photos, the best way to tone down the anxiety during holidays is to create a must-have shot list. What are the things that you absolutely want to capture? For me, I know I want a shot of Walter with Santa, a photo with his great-grandfather (the Big Walter), and a photo of Peter, Walter and I by the Christmas tree, just to name a few. While it might seem excessive to make a list of photos that you absolutely want to have, I promise this will help to keep you on track during family get-togethers and other celebrations. Another must-have for me? The fact that we have two elves, Mitsy and Mayhem, and they actually moved more than once this year.
4. it’s all in the details
Detail shots are some of my favorite because I love to capture the beauty and effort put forth to create the holiday season. This year I decided to make 65 bows for our Christmas tree, and I want to remember enjoy the handmade finished bows (read: blood, sweat, and tears). I also love to do a bokeh shot of our Christmas tree, and if you haven’t done one, my last post has a great how-to guide for a heart-shaped bokeh.
3. show the traditions
This year we moved to a low-rise building instead of a house, and we now have hall neighbors. Instead of baking cookies for them (because you never know if someone is allergic), I decided that Walter and I would make mason jar Christmas tree snow globes for our friends down the hall. Okay, so if we’re being honest here, Walter was watching Peppa Pig for 90% of the craft but it was that 10% of effort that counts, right? #toddlerproblems (if you look reeeeally closely, you’ll see the TV on in the background of the third photo- I’d like to think walter was telepathically sending support from his Peppa Pig binge).
2. getting that (elusive) family photo
Ahhhh… family photos. Some people love them, and others avoid them at all cost. Sure, it might feel like you’re herding cats to get everone in the same room for a quick formal picture, but I promise it isn’t that painful, and a tripod and remote can really be helpful. Give yourself some grace, and know that not everyone will smile (hello itty bitty Walter!). Remember how I said that in my shot list is a photo of Walter with his namesake? If that’s the only family photo I take, I’d be happy with that. Give yourself grace, and don’t force a photo. Personally, I love candids best because it isn’t forced and the emotions are organic (like the photo with Walter and our Weimaraner on the couch). My favorite photos of our family are below, and one of us that is a serial hysterically screamer/doesn’t look at the camera. Screaming crying baby= Christmas cheer, right?
1. be present
I’m going against my inner photographer by saying this, but put the camera down. The past three Christmases have been behind the big ol’ lens, and I realized this year that I missed so much standing behind a camera and watching Christmas happen through the viewfinder. I knew it had to stop. So this year, my camera will be sitting in the next room over because I want to watch my little guy open his presents that he’s been asking for all year with my two eyes. I want to see his face, see his expressions when he realizes that the toy he’s always wanted is really his. I don’t want to have him look up at us with excitement, only to see a giant piece of glass and a camera instead of a smiling mommy that’s so happy for him. Sure, I’ll capture his excitement when he’s playing with his Brio train set on the floor, but I cannot miss out on watching him rip away the wrapping paper. Will it be hard to leave the camera in the next room? Yes. Will it be the best decision I made for Christmas Day? ABSOLUTELY.
You know what, I think this will be the best Christmas yet.
Wishing you the happiest holiday season, and I’ll see you in 2017!