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5 Holiday Photography Ideas to Shoot More and Get Less Stress

Ahhh, the Holidays, that time of year when everyone is happy and feeling great. Tensions are low, everyone is totally relaxed, and since there’s so much copious free time, everyone wants to get their family pictures taken. Well, that statement might be a little bit off, but I have to say, I love shooting holiday pictures.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto

Just in case the family you are shooting isn’t quite the epitome of “calm, cool and collected”, here are a few holiday photography ideas to get them there… or at least make them LOOK like they’re there.

1. Start early

Like September or October. The leaves are pretty, it’s warm out, people aren’t stressed about the holidays, and when they roll in to order in November, they will probably be interested in gift prints, which is always a wonderful thing, for both the givers and the getters.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto

2. Have early ordering deadlines

I hand craft every single one of my holiday cards, and I am here to tell you, the last thing you want to be doing while everyone else is waxing poetic about “merry and bright” is to be hunched over your computer looking at someone else’s happy family. So be good to yourself and make sure that you stop taking orders early enough so that you have enough time to finish slaving over the computer and get your holiday on.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto

3. Give them the opportunity to be themselves…

…No matter what aspect of themselves they want to show. Don’t limit them. Once you have the most reluctant model on your side (read: “all men and boys”) the sky’s the limit.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto

4. Play games

Don’t be afraid to be silly. Go for it. These sisters were playing a run around and stop game when the little sister just jumped into the big sister’s arms.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto
You’re most likely not shooting film, so you have the benefit of being to throw away anything that doesn’t look good…no, really, throw out anything that doesn’t look good.

When I was a very beginning photographer, I had the opportunity to shoot Paula Abdul at the height of her popularity. It was probably the worst photo anyone in the whole world had ever taken of her. Really, I mean, my mom thought it was a picture of me, and I don’t look anything like her. But I took that shot, of the most amazing and powerful superstar in the world, so I proudly showed it to anyone who would take a look.

I wasn’t getting a lot of work at that time, so I took my book to an art director friend, who laughed his head off at me, took the picture out of the sleeve and ripped it up in front of me. I freaked out. Until he took me by the hand and explained that I had taken quite possibly the worst picture I the world of the most amazing and powerful superstar in the world, and that if someone couldn’t take a great shot of her, they must be a horrible photographer. Ohhhhh.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto

So do yourself a favor. No matter how much personal investment you have in a shot, only show your clients the very best ones.

I usually shoot about 150 shots per family. I usually show about 120. Only show them the ones that you would be proud for the family to put on a 40×60 gallery wrap in the foyer of their homes with your name all over it.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto
If less than half of your shots aren’t winners, i.e. sharp, great expressions, nice poses, etc., shots that you’re truly proud of, then I’m sorry, but you should not be charging your clients to photograph them, you should be begging your friends and neighbors to practice on for free. This is for your own benefit. Trust me, showing terrible pictures will ruin you.

5. Embrace unexpected results

That being said, don’t freak out if you do something with unexpected results. People, kids especially, don’t always do what they’re told. I told this boy to give me his meanest, ugliest face.

5 Holiday Photography Ideas - Barb Stitzer for Photodoto
Send me your wins and your fails this Holiday season to [email protected] and I’ll go over them with you . Let’s get better together!

Barbara Stitzer

Barb Stitzer is an award winning Master Photographer living in Hudson, Ohio with her husband, her teen, Zoe and her tween, Tenley. She creates beauty and memories worldwide. Feel free to find her on Facebook or check out her website.
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