{Top 8 easy ways to help your Holiday Christmas portraits go smoothly/ San Diego}

It’s that time of year again! Family Portrait Time.

For me it brings excitement and to be honest a little bit of dread. Let me explain, I totally get it, I know the emotions run high when entertaining the thought of family photos.

It takes effort on the part of moms. That is why I have mastered this with my own family and want to make it easy on you!

The dread: There’s the people involved (yes your people, the ones in your home that can be happy or unhappy about annual photos), there’s the location, the logistics of  getting everyone on time to the said location, the clothing… oh man that in itself is the #1 reason why people don’t go thru with family photos. I know all of your feelings! I get it,  I’ve said or thought the very same things every year! But like you, in the end I treasure the images and love displaying them in my home and sharing with family and friends near and far in a Christmas card. My one little gesture of tradition that I will not ever let go of.

So I thought I would share what I do to prepare for my family’s yearly photo shoot.

Plan Ahead! (This will save you time and money.)

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Who’s in the photos this year. Is it just the kids or whole family, extended family, grandparents, pets? Write it down.
  2.  What is the purpose of taking these images in the first place?  Is it to update a wall portrait or to finally have a wall portrait hanging in your home? Is it just Holiday cards and a few smaller gift prints for family? Is it for an annual heirloom album to pass on to your future generations? What will the end product look like for you? Write it down
  3. Where will this photo be primarily viewed? On a special wall in your living room or in the open concept space? In the office or bedroom nightstand? On a coffee table or piano?
  4. Color selections: What colors are you most drawn to? What colors work with your homes color palette? What colors work best in place your planning on showing your portrait? What colors look best on your family members? Write it down.
  5. Location: Which environment best tells your family’s story or speaks to your heart?  Are you formal or casual, modern or traditional? Where do you love to go and sit to soak up nature? What place holds a special memory? What location best describes the type of family you are? Active, outgoing, simple, traditional, quiet, modern? Write your favorite places down.
  6. Ok, once these questions have been answered, its time to make an appointment with your professional photographer. (That’s where I come in.) I make everything easy and fun by helping coordinate all of your answers into memories for you. We will chat a bit and select the best location date and time.  Now it’s on the calendar. Check✔
  7. Clothing: This is where most people want to freak out!! But don’t, it’s quite easy. Based on your answers to the above questions I can create a clothing pallet and make recommendations on types and styles of clothing. Many items can be found in your current wardrobe. What I have found over the years is, I have about half of what I need, and I buy a few items that I can add to pull together the look. To make it easy on you  I even offer video clothing consultations.
  8. Haircuts and makeup: I recommend that haircuts for guys are at least 10 days prior to the photo shoot. This allows the hair to lay flat and not spazz out from a fresh cut. Women, check your hair color or highlight appointments and line that up for the best style as close to the photo shoot date. Makeup should reflect you, apply a bit more than normal, this photographs nicely. I often recommend professional hair and makeup appointments as well.

Ok, so here is how I applied the above questions our current  photo shoot.


Scheduled the time: Check✔ (Our son is coming home for a visit from college. I need to use this time to take our family photos.)

I know I want a wall portrait for our kitchen-great room.

I  measured the wall space and I know the dimensions I need to fill the space. I want a casual feel to the photo like the room feels.

The colors in the room are grey (sofas) navy and white accent pillows and drapes. I want a relaxed non rushed beach vibe look.

The setting is at the pier near the cliffs.

My clothing selection is a combination of navy and light blue and white. Which will tie into the great room.

We have 6 people in our family.  Shoes are not necessary so that’s one way I can save time and money.

I search through our closets and find white jeans for one of our girls, denim jeans for the rest of us. I will shop for tops for 5 out of 6.

I like to search the TJ Maxx  and our local ROSS stores first. I have had great success and I get the same name brand items for less. (I sound like the commercial)  I take everything I purchase to the next store etc… to match and be sure that all colors work together.

In one afternoon I was able to find all tops to coordinate the looks without looking like we are wearing the same clothing. I often purchase more than what I need, bring it home, lay the outfits together making a clothing family, representing each of us and stand back to view. Anything catching my attention for too long gets pulled out and another item takes its place. I do this until I feel that my eye looks around at each item without one taking over. Then, I have each child try on the clothing. It needs to fit properly and not be too snug or too baggy. It should also represent each persons personality.

Once clothing is selected I return the items not chosen to the stores and I wash and iron each piece. I have everyone change into their shirts at the location. This keeps everything crisp and wrinkle free.

Jewelry and accessories are selected and hung on the hanger with each outfit so they are not forgotten.

Everyone has eaten prior to the shoot and used the restroom.

I often result to bribing for good behavior…but that’s just me, maybe you have well behaved children.

I hope this helps and I look forward to selecting the perfect location to make a heirloom for your walls in your home.

Below is the color palette and room photos before the portraits for planning purposes. Finally, the after with the images in the room.




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