How to take Great Photos for Christmas Cards with Young Children

For the first year, my husband and I decided that we would take family pictures and actually send out Christmas Cards. We had never done so before. I think the last time that we sent correspondence via the mail was our wedding invitation, so we figured it was about time. 
Four years and a baby later, we are finally taking family portraits and sending out Christmas Cards. 
One of my biggest fears was booking portraits and my almost one year old having a meltdown during the photo shoot. My other fear was that because she is coming into her own, having someone she doesn’t know trying to take her picture, she may also give a fake and non-genuine smile (like she did at the pumpkin patch) and I didn’t want that for my Christmas card either. That meant time of day was KEY in making our photography appointment.
Gracia usually wakes up around 6:15am and is her happiest as soon as she opens her eyes. She will remain awake until about 9:30am when she is ready for her first nap of the day. So we booked our portraits for 8:30am. Luckily, our favorite photographer, Iris Mannings Photography was available at that hour.

Here are few things to keep in mind when trying to take Photos with young children:
1. Consider your child’s mood throughout the day. Are they happiest first thing in the morning or are they more cooperative in the afternoon. 
2. Bring familiar items that will get them to smile. 
3. Bring a change of clothes in case something gets stained or ruined. 
4. Bring snacks as rewards for listening and cooperating.
We did all of these things and ended up having a great session at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel in National Harbor, MD. 
I saw Tiny Prints was having a sale on their Holiday Cards so it seemed perfect to give them a try. I had been obsessed with their new foil Holiday Cards that I knew, once we got our photos back, that I would want to use them. Once I selected my favorite design, I wanted to make sure we had poses that  would correspond well with the options that I had in mind. To ensure this, I took print outs of my favorite selections to the photo shoots. As a result, we were able to capture some greats shots. 
When we first arrived at the site, Gracia was able to get familiar with our photographer. We got started, but soon she became moody and we realized in our rush that it was time for to eat once again and she was not going to cooperate if she was hungry. I love that despite having a “time-out” moment from the shoot, our photographer kept snapping away – despite me feeling all kinds of embarrassed because my child was not cooperating – and she was able to capture some great mommy and me moments. 

Once Gracia got her happy food – she was ready to go… 
I love the shots we were able to capture all over the hotel. 

Sometimes with young children you also have to let them lead the shoot and go with the flow… 
Gracia at this point (below) was tired of sitting on our laps and being manipulate into poses and what not that she had kicked off her shoes for the 50,000th time and was about to have full on tears… come to find out she just wanted to sit on the stairs next to us like a “big girl”. I had to let her and look – she lit up like a Christmas Tree. 

I got home and plugged in a few proofs into my favorite Tiny Prints design and sent to my photographer for an opinion and to let her know which ones I wanted her to focus on editing right away so I can place my order.
I ended up settling on this one because I felt it was so fitting of where we are in life. 

And we got to snap a few solo shots to use for her upcoming 1st Birthday too! 

Merry Christmas!

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