Let's just get down to business today. I have read the comments and understand there are a few questions regarding posing ideas. So I'll give you the basics today. But first I want to thank all of you so much for sending in your tips, ideas and links through the comments as well. It helps so much to get input from other moms in the holiday card trenches. I just hope you are all repeating the mantra (again and again). It's working for me thus far which I honestly can't believe because this month is always so crazed around here. Let me put it too you this way...I had 7 squealing 9-year-olds over this weekend for my daughter's birthday/slumber party. OMG. I feel like I'm hung over.
Moving on, let's talk about ways to get your kids in a photo together (all of them!). Some of tips from this post in the archives might help so I'll touch on a few of them and if you want you can click over and read them for some more in depth techniques.
Play chase. I know it's not that easy to get both kids in the same shot when you are all running crazy but this gem worked perfectly for my holiday card last year. I told you I'd show you the infamous coat shot! Wait until I tell you what I did with this to make the final card. Later, later, not until later this week! Hee hee hee.
The Magic Mirror. Perhaps the most effective game is using the lens as a mirror. I'm not thinking this is going to work so well with a point and shoot but it's perfect for an SLR with bigger lenses. If you can get the kids to say still for a minute (even if you have to put a penny down on the ground and have them "stomp" on it to "hide" it to buy you-ooo pun, pun-just a minute or two with the kids close together) and ask them if they can see themselves in the mirror of the camera. I will tell you, and I know I've told you before, THIS WORKS!!!! When they all try to see them selves they squish together in the cutest way. All just mugging for a look into the mirror. It might not last much longer than 2, 3 or 4 shots (shoot fast, shoot fast) but keep in mind, for a holiday card, it only takes ONE good shot!
Lay Down. This is a sure bet for young kids like Pam's. Lay the baby on her back looking straight up. Lure your toddler to do the same and then gently scoot their heads close together. You will be standing above them, camera pointed directly down at them. Just be sure to have the camera strap around your neck or on your wrist. One sure way to blow the shoot is to drop the camera on your child. So, one way to the toddler to lay down is to tell them when they lay down like that Santa can hear them rattle off their Christmas list. Liar liar, I know. And/or have them tell you all about the toys they want this year. You can even ask them to whisper what they want to the baby. That gets the kids extra close together. Or you are welcome to come up with your very own fantastic lie. Whatever works. Hey, I have no shame. And speaking of shame...you can ALWAYS get them to lie down if you hide M-n-Ms under the baby, like right by their ear or their head. I'm incorrigible. And I'm totally into bribery if I need to be.
A variation of the laying down idea is to have the younger babe on their tummy (like up on a bed is prop ably easier than on the floor) if they can hold themselves up for a bit. Then, have the toddler do the same. On their belly. Use the coaxing tools I share above if you need to. This one worked great for us a few years ago.
I had help from Grandma thankfully so there was no rolling off the bed. An extra set of hands is always helpful. Be warned however, tensions are usually high (even if you don't want them to be) so take caution in asking hubby to help you. I always use a Grandma or girl friend when I need it.
Prop It Up. Stacy had a great idea with the book thing. Giving the kids something to do always is a good thing. And what could be cuter than having them reading a holiday book?? So glad you share that. Thanks. Holding or doing almost anything holiday-ish works. Holding presents, a poinsettia plant (although I don't think they are safe if ingested so be careful there), ornaments, whatever. And here's a prop you might not have thought of...a grown up. This is a great idea if you are working with babies. Use Dad or Grandma as the proper-upper instead of a chair. I love shots that include someone special in them (even if it's just an arm or a lap). I use moms as props in every shoot. EVERY ONE. It helps a lot. Especially when the baby is too small to even attempt to prop up in a pillow. And if you're not cool with having an arm in your holiday photo, consider covering the arm with a blanket. No one will the the wiser. Really.
Big Hugs. This one is done to death but I'll never get tired of it. There is something about the children embracing that makes every heart melt. Once I let the kids loosen up and have some fun, I have them give each other big hugs and tickles. Usually kids will hug but it depends on the kids.
Look Away. There seems to be some obsession with photos of kids that are looking into the camera smiling. Sure it's nice when it works out like that, but the big grins right into the lens are so overrated. Ever consider using a photo of the kids looking down, or away or here's a thought, using a shot taken of the back of your child? I know, it doesn't feel right but once you come around to a more creative way of thinking, nothing could be cuter for a card. Kudos to my sister who used this one of my nephew a few years back. LOVE IT!
Keep 'em separated. When all else fails and you've got not a single photo of your kids together that's card worthy, you can always do what Chris suggested. COLLAGE! I have a photographer friend who always sends a card with each of her kids in their own best shot. She's got 4 so I'm sure it's a challenge to get them together and looking good. It's great to see each shining face at it's best. Who says the kids all have to be in the same picture to make a card? Or if you're photoshop savvy like Stacy shoot them separate and digitize them together. Wow. If I could only do that...
Now you've got some more tools under your belt! Tomorrow I will talk design and seeking professional card help, if you're at that point. I know I am. Help is good. And keep those ideas coming gals!