This holiday season looks a lot different for everyone and I wanted to document it just as I normally would. I honestly did not want to spend $150 or more for a 20-minute mini shoot this year, so I had to get creative.
I am here to tell you that if a Christmas or holiday photoshoot is not in your budget this year, it is very easy to DIY your own. The best part about DIY is that you can completely customize it to fit you and your family.
First Step – Location
Choosing a location for your photoshoot is probably going to be one of the harder parts of this DIY. Usually I make note when we are driving around town which locations would make for a good impromptu photoshoot. I know everyone is not like me, so think about what your theme is going to be.
Maybe you want a cozy vibe at home with your family. Opt for matching Christmas pajamas or baking together in the kitchen. You could even use decorating the Christmas tree as the perfect opportunity to snap some photos. Utilizing a strand of lights and some extra ornament balls could make for the perfect photo of your little one.
You could also have an aesthetic Christmas tree farm or tent close by. Now this might not always be allowed, so I encourage you to read up on it beforehand. But, keep an eye out for a Christmas tree farm or tent with a lot of trees. You could put together an impromptu shoot there. A lot of locations are requiring guests to pay if they are bringing in a camera, however you could use your smart phone and get just as good of an image. Apps like Lightroom will allow you to jazz it up with a preset.
For Cassidy’s first Christmas we walked through the Christmas tree farm and took photos ourselves as we looked for a tree. It was alot of fun and we had tons of time to take some great shots.
Her second Christmas we went for the same tree farm, but this time we paid a photographer for a slot in her mini shoot. She had lots of fun décor and we ended up with lots of photos for our holiday cards.
Getting outdoors is always a great idea when it comes to photos. I am constantly scouting out photoshoot locations. I have even stopped because I found the perfect chippy white fence on the side of the road. Be creative! About 3 months ago, I noticed a particular set of bushes in my neighborhood that were the perfect texture for a Christmas tree vibe. I knew that we should DIY our own photoshoot at that location. For the longest time I was at a loss for how we should execute it.
Second Step – Props
For this step, really get creative. There are no rules. Having a location in mind for our photoshoot, I knew that I could make my own set using all of the Christmas decor we already had at home. With the help of my aunt, I had everything that I needed.
Blankets were crucial. I put down a weathered green, red and white plaid table cloth. Since it was dated the colors didn’t over power the other décor that I used. Do not worry about finding decor that “matches”, it will all tie in together.
I then framed the left side of the table cloth with a Radioflyer wagon that has been in our family since I was a kid. I put some artificial trees inside the wagon and covered the bases with a large piece of burlap. I took a faux fur runner and draped it out of the wagon. I place a pillow on top of it. I then used a sign that I had purchases from the Target dollar spot as a finishing touch. Let me tell you, all of my Target dollar spot purchases over the years came in handy for this shoot.
On the right side I used Cassidy’s grey crate night table from her room. I put a nutcracker on top of it along with another artificial tree. A cute touch was filling a burlap present sack with extra blankets and placing it right in front. It gave the set dimension and added for some cute photos.
From the beginning, I knew that these bushes I scouted out gave the Christmas tree forest vibe that I wanted, however, I needed to tie everything in together so it just didn’t look like a picnic on camera. I used a fake snow spray can to dust the bushes along with the artificial tree so they looked like they had just gotten their first snow together. My last touch was using a garland with Santa’s sleigh and the reindeer on the bush.
Third Step – Outfit
This part was the easiest for me because I only included Cassidy in the Christmas photo. This could be tricky if you have more than one person. I was super original with my clothing choice, as you can tell, ha. I put Cassidy in a red and black buffalo plaid dress from Carters. In true Heather fashion, I realized she didn’t have any dress shoes to match. In a panic I found some gold glitter sneakers in her closet.
You can have tons of fun with outfit choices. I am usually not a huge fan of having everyone match 100%, so just take a look in your closets and see if there is a similar color scheme, or just buy your Christmas day outfits early so you aren’t spending money twice.
Cute clothing ideas: jeans and t-shirts, matching pajamas, dress clothes, ugly Christmas sweaters etc.
Be gentle with yourself – everything will tie in together at the end.
Fourth Step – Camera
I took my photos with both my iPhone 11 and my boyfriend’s Cannon DSLR. Being honest, alot of the photos that I took with the expensive camera had glares from the sun. This is probably due to me not being a photographer. I didn’t take any test photos, I just went for it.
But the point of this is, I could have taken these photos only using my iPhone if I had to. Portrait mode on the iPhone is amazing and there are a ton of apps like Lightroom that make it easy to manipulate the photos afterward. On lightroom you can even upload preset bundles purchased from Etsy to enhance your image if you are nervous to do it manually.
Fifth & Final Step
Bribery. Yes, I said it. Bribe your children and husbands/wives with their favorite things to get the smiles you need. It is like pulling teeth, I know. But it works. Taking photos of children is hard, so I give the professionals all of the props they deserve. For every 100 photos I might have gotten 5-10 pictures that I can use. I recommend you just snap away.
This photoshoot only cost me a McGriddle, so I will take that as a win and a demonstration of my negotiation skills.
I hope you all have fun this holiday season and tag me on IG @_sexonaweekday if this inspires you to set up your own photoshoot!