How to Take Amazing Holiday Photos

Posted November 17, 2014 by Prairie Wife - 4 comments

We first met Erin when she was a Prairie Wife of the Week and she shared how she took her love of photography and turned it into a business. With the holidays coming up, many of us are rushing to get family photos taken for Christmas cards. I hope I’m not alone when I share that I spent weeks trying to pick out the right outfits for all of us. Then you have all those holiday pictures with relatives…I always keep my fingers crossed that at least one won’t have my toddler screaming and reaching for me! As part of our month of Helpful Holiday Hints, I asked Erin if she would take a few moments to answer some questions and offer some advice that will help ensure that all your holiday memories are perfectly captured!

Prairie Wife (PW): Let’s start with family picture advice first. What do you think about matching outfits, coordinating outfits, or everyone wearing whatever they want?

Erin (E): There are so many options and things to think about when it comes to deciding what to wear! I personally like when the outfits look coordinated. I suggest picking three or four colors and then mixing it up. Have one person wear stripes in that color theme, another person in plaid, then floral etc. If there is an accent color you can have someone wear a solid shirt in that color. Fabrics with texture always look great. Layers are wonderful for both visual interest and added warmth for an outdoor session. Sometimes it is tempting to wear holiday attire, but if you want to hang a print of your family up year round it may end up looking too seasonal. If it is cold outside for your session, throw some hats and mittens on those little ones, they will be much happier. Look online for outfit ideas, I recommend Pinterest.


PW: Props or not for family pictures?

E: Most of the props I use are useful ones, something to sit on or a simple prop that will add color and interest to a photo. When the prop takes the attention away from the people in the photo I think it is too much. That being said, for holiday cards you might want to add a little extra prop in your photos. A few ideas are large letters that spell something festive, a Christmas banner, or perhaps ornaments or a Christmas Star.


toddlerPW: Any advice for how to make younger children look at the camera or stay still?

E: Well, I know this lady that does a great cookie monster! Ha Ha!

PW: That would be me…I spent 20 minutes singing like Cookie Monster to keep Cowboy C happy our last photo session! I can honestly say the raspy throat the next day was well worth it when I saw the beautiful pictures.

E: The answer to this question totally depends on the individual child and what the mood is. I rely on the parents for this because they are often very helpful and know what type of coercion will work best! I also totally agree with bribery and some sort of reward. I love it when parents throw in a “If you can cooperate we can go get a treat!” I also like to get the kids up and moving some, and breaks in between shots to explore close by can help. It is best to keep the mood light and fun whenever possible. If the kiddo is very young sometime you just have to chase them around with the camera and hope you get some good shots!

PW: Do you have any favorite poses that work well for families?

E: My favorite poses are when everyone is touching and looking cozy. Things that help achieve this vibe are of course physically being close together, holding hands, an arm around someone next to you, leaning on someone, and sitting in laps. Being able to see the love a family has for each other just makes a wonderful photo!


PW: Natural light makes the best pictures, but in winter this isn’t always possible. What can we do to make our indoor pictures look better?

E: Basically, learning a little more about your camera will help with this. Just experiment a bit with different settings. When there is low light, your shutter speed slows down to allow more light in. This results in blurry photos, so you need to figure out a way to add more light. Pick a room that has the best light, a room with windows that let in a soft light. If the sun is too bright, hang something to help soften the light if pulling the curtains takes too much of the light away. By reading your camera manual and figuring out what your camera is capable of will not only improve your indoor photos, but all of your photos!

PW: When it comes time to take holiday pictures of gift opening or family time what advice do you have?

E: Time to turn on the video camera! This is a great time to be able to hear the excitement as well as see it!

PW: Any other helpful holiday hints for great holiday photos?

E: What is your favorite part of Christmas? Decorating the tree, cooking a big dinner, or playing family board games? Snap a few photos during these special times. In twenty years you’ll love having those memories to look back on!


Stop by Erin’s site or her Facebook Page to see more of her work and to schedule your next family photo session! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section, Erin will be stopping by this week to answer them.

Make sure you read our Holiday Makeup Tips post and learn how to look your best in pictures from professional makeup artist Kendra Richards!

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4 thoughts on "How to Take Amazing Holiday Photos"

  1. Ma says:

    Thanks for the terrific tips. Erin’s work is always so individual, creative and awesome!!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      I couldn’t agree more!

    2. Erin Potter says:

      Thank you so much!!! Happy Holidays!

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