(Watch Monica on the Today Show)
“Taking holiday photos is so stressful. How do I get my kids to sit still and smile for the camera?”–N.G., Miami, FL
Photographing kids is easier than you think. The trick is to let them do what comes natural to them. While you may be able to strike a pose and hold it as soon as you see the lens, kids, on the other hand, may have the opposite reaction, which is to do anything but freeze.
And that’s OK! The truth is shots of everyday life are generally more interesting than the overly-posed and contrived ones. There are lots of alternatives to a photo of your child wearing formal clothes while standing in front of the Christmas tree. Let them do what they do best: Be a kid. If that means sticking their little finger in the holiday cookie batter, shaking the biggest boxes under the tree, or playing endlessly on the floor with their toys, then great! A happy child makes a happy picture.
Rather than overlook these everyday moments in our lives, embrace them for what they are: The golden moments that will make your holiday photos stand out and help tell the unique story of your family for years to come. Here are three common scenarios that are the perfect setting for an impromptu, hassle-free holiday photo shoot.
No need to dress kids up for this one! A simple pair of PJs is ideal to capture a warm, fuzzy, winter moment. Maybe just this once, let them jump on the bed or have that pillow fight. Or if you prefer something more tame, play peek-a-boo under the covers or photograph them while their curled up under their blankie watching T.V. If the younger kids like to crawl into their older sibling’s bed in the A.M., I would say catch them in the adorable act!
A great time to photograph a baby is when they are sitting quietly in the lap of their mom, dad, grandparent or anyone who makes them feel comfortable. Use this opportunity to get in close with your camera. It’s OK to crop the parent out here (sorry, guys!). If the baby starts to cry, as they often do, don’t fret. Just change your focus and zoom in on the baby’s delicate hands or feet. No one will ever know the baby was crying when you took these lovely, detailed shots.
It’s amazing how kids can just sit and play for hours, driving their toy truck through an imaginary land or hosting a tea party for four cotton-stuffed friends. This is your child in their purest form, completely self-entertained and content. Embrace the moment by becoming an observer or engaging them in a conversation about what they are doing–with your camera in hand, of course!
If there are several kids in the mix (yours along with other family members’ or friends’ children), consider initiating a “Ring Around the Rosy” game. It’s my number one backup plan and it has yet to fail me. I even got Hoda and Kathie Lee to play along with a 5-year-old cutie when I recently appeared on the Today Show. Check out the clip (above) to see what I mean.
How did these tips work out for you? We would love to see how your own holiday photos turned out. Share them with us at Show Us Your Story.