Christmas is such a magical time of year and is made even more magical when there are little ones involved. Before I became a photographer, I remember when Jasmine was a baby and creating this Christmas set up in our living room. There is definitely a lot going on in this picture, but whenever I look back on these photos, they bring back the most wonderful memories.
Festive photos make lovely Christmas gifts for the grandparents and are great to pop on a Christmas card. So with that in mind, here are my Top 5 DIY Christmas photoshoot ideas!
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree
You don’t need to go out and spend a lot of money buying props when you may already have a big green Christmas prop already set up. Yes, I’m talking about your Christmas tree!
If your little one is able to sit up by themselves, sit them by the tree and capture them playing with the tree and decorations. If not, then you could lay them in a crate (make sure you have lots of blankets to create a nice soft bed for them) or drape a Christmas coloured (or plain cream) blanket over your baby bouncer and pop your little one in it and place it in front of the tree.
There is beauty in simplicity
Simplicity is something that my own photography style is guided by and as you can see by this example, you can create some really cute photos with just a plain white wall, or bed with white sheets, fairy lights in the background and a cute Christmas outfit!
Add Christmas toys for them to play with or pop a little Christmas book in their lap.
Place a medium to large sized Christmas wreath against a plain wall - extra points if you have one with little lights! Place your little one to the side of the wreath. Add a fluffy blanket to create more warmth and texture to the photos.
The best Christmas present ever
Wrap a cardboard box big enough for your little one to sit in with Christmas wrapping paper. Pop the box about 1-2 metres in front of your Christmas tree and take photos of your little one sitting inside it.
Let’s wrap this up!
An easy and affordable way of creating a cute Christmas backdrop for your DIY photoshoot, is to use festive Christmas wrapping paper. You can get some really lovely designs that aren’t too busy. Stick it to a wall with blue tac and there you have it - your own Christmas backdrop!
Things you might need:
- Christmas themed toys and/or books
- Christmas outfits
- Baubles (make sure you get plastic or smashproof ones and always watch your baby closely)
- Fairy lights (for creating a lovely twinkly backdrop)
- Christmas wreath
- Rattle or noise maker (to get their attention)
- Elf/Santa hat
Things to consider:
Make sure everything is set up and you have all the props you need, so you can just get them dressed and start. You don’t want to be fiddling around looking for things, or putting props into position, because as we know, when little ones are involved we only have a short timeframe to work with, before they lose interest!
Remove the clutter
Having two children of my own, I totally understand how much of a challenge it is to get rid of the clutter around the house. This is why it is important to choose just one area that you want to use as your backdrop for the photoshoot and try to remove the clutter from this area. Clutter is distracting in photos and you want to make sure the focus is on your beautiful baby.
Let there be light!
When deciding on where to take the photos, light is a very important factor. Try to avoid using your flash, because it can be very unflattering and create harsh shadows on the face. Find yourself a nice big source of natural light instead, like a window or door.
Use burst mode
How many times have you taken a photo of your little one and they’ve blinked, or swung a rattle up in front of their face right at the moment of the most gorgeous smile? Most smartphones have a Burst Mode option, which takes multiple photos at one time. You can then go through them and find the best one.
Make it fun for the kids
Pick your moments and try to keep it natural and engaging. Give your little one something to do like playing with a toy, encourage them to get involved in some Christmas baking (for the older ones). The best photos are those where everyone is having fun. If your little one is not having any of it, know when to stop and call it. It is meant to be an enjoyable experience, so you can always try again another day!
Angles, angles, angles
Take lots of different angles when photographing your little one.
Zoom out, go close up. Take aerial photos and make sure you capture the details like little fingers and toes.
Creating the twinkly light look
‘Bokeh’ otherwise known as ‘twinkly lights’ is created when there is a reasonable distance between the subject (i.e. your gorgeous baby) and the lights. If you have set up fairy lights in the background, I suggest placing your little one at least 1-2 metres in front of them. If you are using your phone, most Smartphones have Portrait Mode. This mode makes the background blurry and focuses on your little one, so they really stand out and pop in the photo.
Clean your camera lens/es!
Pretty basic, but you will be surprised at how many of us have fingerprints all over them!
Be in the photos
This is where the tripod comes in handy. Make sure you take at least a few photos of you with your little one during the photoshoot. We don’t get in the photos with our children enough and these are the memories they (and we!) are going to want to look back on when they are all grown up.
Each year I hold Christmas mini sessions in my studio in Woking, Surrey. They are usually held in November and it is a really sweet way to start getting into the festive mood. Lots of gorgeous children come through the studio doors with their parents and we have a great time singing Christmas songs and making each other laugh (to keep it real, there is also a lot of bribery that goes on behind the scenes too!) Here are some of the beautiful moments I captured this year!
Cheryl is the owner of Cheryl Catton Photography and works from her studio in Woking, Surrey. She is a bump to baby and beyond photographer and her style is based around simplicity, whites and minimalism. Follow her on Instagram #cherylcattonphotography or Facebook, or head over to her website to find out more information on the different sessions she offers www.cherylcattonphotography.co.uk. She is now fully booked for the remainder of the year and her diary is filling up for 2022, so get in touch early if you are expecting a baby and would like her to create some beautiful memories for you, that you will cherish forever.