Heidi Grace Photography | Redlands, Ca | Magical Christmas Tree Farm Sessions
It’s that time of year again…
Now that Halloween has officially come and gone, I finally feel like it’s safe for me to openly talk about all things Christmas. But, more specifically, Christmas Tree Farm Sessions. Anytime you take the time to have your family’s pictures taken, it can be stressful. But, during the holidays, it can feel 100 times worse. So let’s talk about my 7 tips to help make your Christmas Tree Farm session magical!
Tip 1: Have a complete understanding of what type of photographer you are booking
There is nothing worse than showing up to your session expecting one thing and getting another. Is your photographer lifestyle, outdoor, in studio, or strictly posed? I am an outdoor lifestyle photographer. I feel like my work clearly states that, but I’ve had countless times, where families have contacted me asking if I have my holiday setup ready so they can book. I’m glad they asked ahead of time, and not after booking, so they were not shocked and surprised when showing up to a session with me and expecting a full studio Christmas display and getting nothing but the natural surroundings of the tree farm. Generally, lifestyle means that I use little to no props. The items I do use, can be described as everyday items that will blend in seamlessly with your photos. You won’t find holiday signs, or reindeer statues, or any type of furniture in my photos. (There is nothing wrong with that type of setup, it’s just not my thing.) When you book a Christmas Tree Farm session with me, the only props I bring are: a blanket, some candy canes, and a wooden box or two. If you are wanting an elaborate setup, make sure before booking you discuss this with your photographer.
Tip 2: Christmas Sessions are generally shorter in time so plan ahead and prep little ones
Most Christmas Tree Farm sessions are about half the time as a regular family shoot, but sometimes they will be even less. My tree farm sessions run 20 minutes long. I book clients every half hour so there is slight wiggle room. This helps if a child is not cooperating or if someone needs to use the bathroom, but your scheduled start time is reserved just for you. If my client before you is running late, I will shoot up until your start time to ensure we begin on time. Always plan for traffic, parking time, and getting really young littles dressed at the location. Remember to prep children for several days before your session. Remind them in age appropriate language, that you will be taking fun and magical pictures at the Christmas Tree Farm. But, we only have x amount of time, so everyone needs to be good listeners with – insert photographer name. Get them excited about the session and let them know that you know they are going to do a wonderful job being a little model. Now, I never expect perfect smiles or perfect poses by any means. But, letting them know your expectations gives them boundaries and guidelines that there is a fun job to do at the tree farm.
Tip 3: Give an incentive
Piggy backing off of tip 2, make sure to reward your child with some small token of appreciation for a job well done after the session. It’s a lot to ask young children to sit and smile or any amount of time. If they have something to work for, they will usually be super excited to participate. Instead of saying during the session that something will be taken away if they don’t cooperate, instead kindly remind them of their incentive for their good behavior and cooperation. Some incentives can be: ice cream, a small toy, dinner at McDonals’d etc.
Tip 4: Expect that things may not go as planned
This one is a hard pill to swallow sometimes. The excitement and anticipation of having beautiful and perfect family pictures of your very own doesn’t always work out. Now, I’m not saying that the edits or composition of the images won’t be photographically correct, but perfectly smiling faces or poses might not happen. Kids will be kids, especially toddlers. Sometimes no matter what the parents or I try, little ones are not in the mood. This is where being a lifestyle photographer can come into to play. Some of my most favorite images are the ones where no one is looking at me or my camera lens. I love laughter, and loving smiles towards each other. I will always try and get the “Christmas Card” shot, but sometimes, it just ain’t happening and that’s ok.
Tip 5: Nap time is NECESSARY
Most little ones CANNOT function to the best of their ability unless they have sometime during the day to rest or sleep. I shoot all sessions around sunset, so sometimes that means that your session time may interfere with bedtime. Luckily, Christmas Tree Farm Sessions happen after time change, so starts times are earlier in the day, But, that can mean, it may interfere with nap time. My solution for this is the day of your session, get your little one up an hour earlier than usual in the morning. Have them play like crazy. If you can, have them do something physical. Run around, go to the park etc. This will hopefully set the stage for them to nap a little earlier, or nap a little longer so they are nice and rested for your photos. Try to avoid candy or sugar until the session is in progress or is over.
Tip 6: Dress accordingly
I watch the weather like a hawk before any session. In Southern California, our weather likes to flip flop during Tree Farm season. One day it’s 85 and the sun is blazing, and then the next, it’s 50 cloudy and cold. When picking outfits, make sure your outfits can be layered. This could mean either adding layers, or removing them if necessary. Adding tights under a little girls dress and a cardigan will allow her to wear her same dress, but be a tad warmer if the weather was to change drastically.
Tip 7: Choose outfit colors wisely
This is always a good tip, but more so with Christmas Tree Farm Sessions. Earth tones, jewel tones, and neutrals always photograph best, except during a tree farm session. Green is a beautiful earth tone, but not advised for a tree farm session. Green against green tends to be a bit much and the person ends up blending into the background instead of standing out. Deep color jewel tones are my favorite for tree farm sessions. They are bold and colorful and look amazing against the deep green of the trees. Remember to coordinate your outfits instead of matching. Check out these two bog posts of mine to help you plan your family’s outfits 7 Tips to take the Stress Out of Family Pictures and What to Wear to a Family Session
Hopefully these tips were helpful! Book your session, have fun planning, and allow the magic to happen! Happy Holidays!!
Hi! I’m Heidi with Heidi Grace Photography. I’m a wife and mom that adores living in Southern California, and capturing moments over poses for families in some of the most beautiful locations in the Inland Empire. I specialize in children’s and family photography, and am based out of Beaumont, Ca.
Ready to book a session with me? Contact me here
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