CELEBRATE: with two simple DIY holiday photo card ideas and my toddler photo tips.
Some days I think my daughter has two speeds: fast and faster. She’s been like that ever since she learned to walk. Come to think of it, she was a pretty speedy crawler, too!
Most little children rarely sit still. Trying to photograph them is a challenge, to put it mildly. I’m lucky if my daughter slows down to look in a camera’s direction, let alone smile!
But, nevertheless, I tried last year to take photos of her for our holiday card. A professional photographer I am not… but I try. And if I can take these photos, I’m pretty sure you can with practice and a few pointers.
I thought I’d share these two easy toddler holiday pose ideas. I wanted to give you a few tips to help you take the best photo you can… of your bouncing and busy babe.
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After you’ve chased your toddler around the tree or yard, it is pretty easy to turn your photo into a card. You can print them using a professional online photo card service (like Shutterfly)… or you can follow my cheater way to make DIY photo cards instead. (My version is much cheaper!)
My tips for creating a holiday photo card of your toddler
Shoot in daylight.
Resist the urge to take your photos at night. Daylight, especially in the morning or late afternoon will light your photos well and give you the best results. Oh, and turn OFF the flash! It will cast harsh shadows on faces.
Occupy them with something.
In my first photo shoot, I created a festive mood with a large, red ornament. My daughter had never seen an ornament before up close. (She was about 15 months old at the time.) She was fascinated with it… and, like all babies, wanted to chew on the ring. (Which made me nervous, but hey, I was right there.) I took her outside and gave the ornament to her in front of some evergreen trees. I started shooting right away and got a few good shots.
In the other photo set-up, I had my camera out after we came back from a holiday party. She was all dressed up and I encouraged her to look at the tree with me, camera in hand. We pointed at a few ornaments and she ran around… I did my best to catch her looking at me with the tree in the background.
Get down to their level.
Drop down and position your camera eye level with your child. It will give you an interesting shot and feel more personal. Also, don’t be afraid to get close when you frame a shot. You don’t need the whole tree in the background or your child’s whole body in the shot to get a fun picture.
Get that blurry background.
People love that blurry background in photos, also called bokeh. I’m going to warn you that it is a tough effect to achieve with a point and shoot or cell phone camera. It is definitely easier with a DSLR camera. If you happen to have one of these ‘fancy’ cameras and are comfortable shooting manual, you’ll want to use a low aperture (like f/2.0). If manual mode scares you, set your camera to the portrait setting which should help you achieve the proper settings.
The other big tip to getting that blur is to move your subject farther away from your background. The further away my daughter was from the trees and lights, the blurrier the background became.
Do not expect a smile.
Don’t even expect that you’ll capture your child looking at the camera!
Tiny tots are not the most cooperative models. I’ve learned that the more I ask my daughter to “look at me” with my camera in hand, the more she ignores me. So, I try to go with the flow and just keep shooting while she does something (see tip number two above). That’s OK, sometimes you can get some really sweet shots without a look into the camera.
Take LOTS of photos.
I’m serious. TONS. People comment that they love my photos but I freely admit that my secret is to take a bunch of them. For every decent photo I got, I probably trashed 50 to 100 lousy ones.
Oh, and burst mode or continuous shoot setting is your friend, especially with kids on the go!
Edit the photo and add text or graphics.
Once you find a shot or two you like, edit the photos and make it festive. Add text and graphics for a personal sentiment. I love creating my own photo card vs. a pre-made template. It is unique and cheaper to print, too!
Print off your photo and put into envelopes.
Your local paper supply store should sell envelopes that fit a 4” x 6” photo. If not, you can easily find them online. All you need to do is print off your festive photo card and pop it in an envelope!
My resource list for a holiday toddler photo shoot and card:
- Camera: You can use your cell phone camera or a DSLR camera. (I use a Canon Rebel T3i. It has been since discontinued but Canon has a newer version out.)
- Lens: If you really want up your game, try a prime lens like this one (or this one for a little more money). You cannot zoom with these lens (you physically will need to move to adjust your shot) but that creamy blurred effect is easier to achieve with these lens.
- Editing programs: I’ve used both PicMonkey and FotoJet to add text to photos. They are free and have some fun and festive graphics you can add to make your picture holiday card-ready.
- Print your photos: The most cost-effective way to print your photos is by mail vs. a local one-hour developer. I’m terrible at planning ahead and often rely on one-hour. When I do plan ahead, I will use either Shutterfly or Walmart to print my photos and send them to me by mail.
- Stuff your envelopes: Find envelopes (locally or online) that will fit a 4” x 6” photograph.
I’m still not sure what I’m going to do this year for my daughter’s Christmas picture. I have a few ideas and hopefully will be able to shoot them soon.
P.S. Do you have an infant and need a fun, holiday card idea for them, too? Check out the pose I did with my daughter at 4 months old… It was super easy to do, too.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I’m just sharing products and resources that I love. Some of the links above are affiliate links. Please see my disclosure statement for more details.