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Usually, I’m pretty on the ball with Christmas cards. Well, except last year, that we didn’t do them. But the year before that, I had my cards ordered and ready to ship before Thanksgiving. This year though, Christmas cards were saved until the last minute. Actually, I don’t even have them yet!
As I was browsing local photographers in November, I quickly realized that the best of the best had already been booked. That’s what I get for not booking Christmas photos in August! It was slim pickin’s, and as I browsed more, I thought, “I could take better photos than some of these photogs..”
SO! That’s exactly what I decided to do! Armed with the tripod I got for my birthday earlier this year, and a handy dandy camera remote that I got off of Amazon. Our family took to the beach for a Christmas session. Because this is likely our last Christmas in Hawaii, I insisted that we had to have beach photos.
Picking the perfect time
Timing proved to be the most difficult variable of the entire ordeal. Between the endless rainy days that we had for a while, and John’s late nights as he prepares to relinquish command, finding time to go to the beach was nearly impossible.
To achieve the perfect lighting situation, it’s ideal to shoot outdoors within the first or last hour of sunlight. Shooting during the golden hour provides a softer and naturally diffused light, for nearly perfect exposure. There was no way I was wrangling the entire family at 6 something in the morning, so sunset it was!
Because I’ve been building up my photography stash, I didn’t need to purchase a single item for this shoot. Which basically means is was free. Yay!
The two must haves for shooting our family photos were this tripod and this remote for my camera. I’ve actually ordered the remote twice now, after the girls lost my first one. The remote is fantastic, and still works with my older Nikon D3100. Even if you don’t have these items, they’re available for cheap on Amazon!
I was easily able to hide my clicking hand behind John. The girls even took a couple turns!
Setting the scene
Honestly, the most difficult part (which in reality was pretty simple) of putting the photos together, was setting up the camera in a way that captured the family well as well as the landscape behind us. I didn’t want to have to run back and forth to the camera after every single shot, so what I did was pose John, and then fill the kids in around him. Posing ideas came from Pinterest, which I searched as John drove to the beach.
I’d start by having John stand in a certain spot, then I’d move the camera and tripod where it would be capture him and the surroundings. I was constantly peeking through the viewfinder, just to be sure. Then, I went down to where he was and arranged the kids around him. From there it was back up the beach to check the viewfinder again, and finally back to my spot.
For each pose I snapped at least 10-15 photos. When you’re trying to shoot with three kids, it’s nearly impossible to have them all looking at the camera at the same time. I figured if we could get 1 out of 10, I’d be satisfied. The most important thing that I kept reminding myself, was to not take my eyes off the camera. Wouldn’t it suck if all three kids were looking, but mom was looking down at them telling them to look?!
I’m still trying to pull the trigger on Photoshop, so all of the editing on our photos was done on PicMonkey. I do have the paid plan however, so I was able to do a bit more tweaking than you can do with the free version.
Because we went out on an extra cloudy day, there weren’t as many pinks and purples in the sky as I was hoping for at sunset. I was able to bring out a few, but I would have liked more.
I enjoyed doing these photos so much, that I told John I’d like to start doing them once a quarter. As I’m sure you can assume, he was thrilled.
Have you ever tried to take your own family photos?