Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Holiday Card Photography Tips

We are making a concerted effort this year not to fall subject to the Holiday-card-photo panic! It always happens, October rolls around and we are without photo. We asked photographer Rachel McGinn, a former editor at J.Crew Catalog and whose work we admire, to share some suggestions on how to get that photo. For all the effort the cards take, shouldn't we like what we are sending out!?

What is the best time of day to take pictures for lighting and mood of the children?
"For lighting I like late afternoon. You can shoot at any point if you are in the shade. Even light is best. If you are in the shade make sure the sun is behind you. Of course timing is key especially for little ones. Make sure they are fed and rested! Late morning after a snack seems to work well."

Are there are any tricks that you use to get kids to cooperate?
"To help them cooperate I try to get as silly as possible. Potty humor, although not the best idea, is always a sure thing and gets the older kids to laugh. For the little ones we talk about favorite ice cream flavors, sing songs and if all else fails I say, "let's scream as loud as we can!" They love this and always smile."

Are there any props that you suggest using when photographing?
"The only time I might use a prop is for a baby. I like pretty sterling rattles."

What do you find to be the best setting?
"The best settings depend on the season. Of course I love the beach for summer portraits but not when it is so obviously beachy. Choose a spot where the sand is soft and light where you really have to study the image to know what you are looking at. In the fall and winter I like to find locations with beautiful architectural details, I like stone walls. Your home can always work too. We have a front porch that I love and I have found myself taking lots of photos there this summer. Find a spot that really represents the flavor of your house. When it is really cold I like to pull a simple chair up toward a window to utilize pretty light."

I’ve heard shooting at eye-level is good with kids.
"Shooting at eye level works not only for the image but I find that babies and toddlers like to see themselves in the lense and tend to look right at it when you are close."

What are your suggestions on what to wear?
“I find that solids or small patterns work best. For solids I like creams and navy and small patterns can be gingham, thin stripes or tiny floral like Liberty prints. Your focus should be on the faces, not the clothing.”

Do you prefer black-and-white or color for children?"
"I love both. I like color when there are fun details in the pictures that really pop but I prefer black and white for tight head shots where the contrast can play a big part."

What have been your favorite photos for holiday cards?
"I loved my Christmas card from last year (photo above). I shot the 3 kids from behind as we were leaving Nantucket on an early ferry. Although you couldn't see their faces you could tell a lot about them. Holt at 16 months standing on his tippy toes to keep up with the girls, Lila at 3 with her thumb in her mouth and Sara at 6 with both hands on cheeks tortured by her younger siblings. I sent it more for the feeling than or what their faces looked like.

Do you have opinions on selecting a card? Do you match colors in the photo to the card?"I do like to match colors to the card. I have been on a red/robins egg blue combo for the last three years. It's Holiday with out being too ordinary. I love Martha Stewart for Kodak as well as Papersource if you are feeling really crafty."

1 comment:

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