expert advice on how to take a great Christmas card photo,tips for your family picture for your holiday greeting card

 

Reader's Question No. 1:

I've been taking pictures of the kids in my daycare and sharing them every week for my parents so they can enjoy how much fun their kids have with me for the last 5 years. I've recently wanted to take my skills to the next level and I'm currently building a portfolio. I plan on taking engagement pictures for a friend next weekend and she and her honey are interested in posing at the beach. Do you think this is a good location? I was also thinking of our neighborhood rose garden. Either spot I feel would be nice, but concerned about the lighting…i.e. tip #2 trying to avoid taking pics between 10-2 pm, which is probably when I'll be shooting.

Also what software do you use? Photoshop?

-N.

Arden's Answer No. 1:

Um, BEACH all the way; if only we had one here in northern Texas. {Editor's note: Both Polka Dot Design and Arden Prucha Jenkins are based out of Fort Worth, Texas.} You can really shoot anytime of the day. I am a ‘natural light photographer’ and utilize the pretty sunlight as much as possible. If you shoot them on the beach and it’s bright make sure to face their back towards the sun, then you don’t have that harsh light on their faces. The most important thing is that their faces are exposed properly. You may want to utilize fill flash. I am not a flash gal, but there is nothing wrong with it! It’s all about how you want your images to look.

*Biggest tip I can give you as you are getting your portfolio together: Learn your camera and learn manual mode…Manual mode is your key to success! Also don’t undervalue yourself, there are only so many shoots anyone should do for ‘FREE’ or practically free. With so many people turning to photography, it is very important that we take care of this industry and make it valuable – especially with all of the women photographers, we tend to devalue our business and our pricing. Get it right from the get go.

I have Photoshop CS4 Extended, Adobe Camera Raw (comes with PS) and Lightroom 3. I use all three programs for different techniques!

 

 

Reader's Question No. 2:

What tips do you have to help with the whole double chin issue and is there a way to take oh say 30 lbs off somebody while you're at it? 

-J.

Arden's Answer No. 2:

Ha, you are funny! Well, one tip is have someone shoot from above, not from a second story, but up on a ladder or chair. We ALL have double chins if our face is down far enough. When our chin is slightly up, it erases that unwanted extra skin! For a slimming effect turn on an angle, just slightly – and I am a fan of hands on your lower hip for a gentle bend that opens up a nice curve in your waist, but keeps your arms looking thinner, rather than smooshed at your side.

 

 

Reader's Question No. 3:

What's the best way to keep small children happy during a portrait session?

-A.

Arden's Answer No. 3:

Well, I will be the first to admit that children are the hardest clients; for me. Bribing is always a semi-helpful way for kids – I like to bring treats on my shoots. Fruit snacks, goldfish, juice boxes and dare I say it… candy! Honestly, whatever will get them working for ya. The other day I utilized a crass and immature words to get a little guy to laugh, but it worked. I think each child has their own ‘thing’ that can get them to focus… ice cream, telling them ‘NO!’, shouting out ‘boogers,’ tickling, feeding them on the spot, or threatening their tooshie (mom and dad, of course).  Make sure to have some books, toys, snacks, and jokes up your sleeve to keep them entertained. If they just aren’t feeling it, I take them away from mm and dad. Kids seem to listen to you more when the family isn’t there to ‘save’ them or manipulate.

*I also think interactive photos help them not feel so posed and uncomfortable. 

 

 

Reader's Question No. 4:

Hi Arden,

How many photos do you think is a good amount to take during a family portrait session? Is there ever too much? Thank you!

-C.

Arden's Answer No. 4:

You have asked the WRONG girl. I am an over-shooter, but this is because I am a little clumsy and overshooting makes me comfortable. I tend to shoot crooked and have embraced it, sometimes my lenses don’t focus properly (especially when shooting 1.4 or wider – or into the sun), and people blink – some people are perpetual blinkers. I shoot a lot and many times only ONE image turns out. I think every person has different standards for number of images, pre and post-production. You have to find the amount that makes you comfortable – for your clients’ and your business’ sake. The longer I have been doing this, the less I shoot and less time it takes me to capture a portrait session. 

What really counts? Getting the shot that makes your clients heart melt… so you set those rules and don’t worry about how anyone else does it!

 

 

Reader's Question No. 5:

So a family friend is doing our pics. The problem? I do what you say not to do! I make my boys match. I need help! Suggestions?

-J.

Arden's Answer No. 5:

What I suggest to you is keeping it in a similar color scheme – also if you want to dress the three boys in the same shirt have each little one wear something different to set them a part: a vest, blazer, jacket, sweater vest, sweater, suspenders, hat etc. I think keeping them in cool hues is a great way to have them coordinate without having them look identical – then you and your husband can coordinate with them in the same tones or even throw in another color.

This year my family will be wearing outfits with: cream, blue, purple, and black. Why? Because I looked at some clothing that coordinates and is cool, it ‘goes,’ but isn’t exact.  We are casual people who try to keep up with the fashion times and won’t be wearing navy tops with dark denim jeans – we want to be US!