Dec 10, 2012

My First Christmas Photo Shoot

So now that it's officially December and officially Christmas time, let me share a little secret.  I did my first ever Christmas photo shoot this fall!!! I just wanted to wait until their Christmas cards came out before I showed off all the pictures, lol! But guess what came in the mail last week...

Okay, so not only is this my first Christmas photo shoot, but really my first photo shoot ever. You know, being on the shooting side of the camera.  Earlier in the fall I was talking to my good friend Lauren about the new fancy camera. We started talking about Christmas card pictures and it ended up with me saying, "please, please, let me take you on a photo shoot adventure and take pictures of you and your hubby (and dog) for your Christmas card!"

Good thing we're friends... she said yes. I have no prior experience, never taken Christmas card pictures before, still learning to use my camera. So just as the leaves started to turn we scheduled a day for a shoot and the researching began. I scanned any article with pose ideas, with scouting ideas, with lighting information. I hopped on Pinterest and looked at every "Photography" and "Christmas" pin board I could find. Can you tell I was super excited?!

I had a few sketched of poses ready, and I had talked to Lauren about what her and Curtis should wear. I figured winter-like clothes would work best, even if it wasn't quite winter yet (it was like the weekend before Halloween or something crazy like that). As far as the lighting, I looked up the weather hoping for good cloud cover. From what I read it's nice to have consistent lighting and the clouds help blur the lighting to prevent shadows and the like. I'm not so sure on that one, though, because it ended up real sunny out the day of the shoot and we made it work. I did find a website that calculates the "Golden Hour" for any location. Apparently the "Golden Hour" is an hour-ish after the sun rises or before the sun sets that makes for some real nice picture taking.

So a few days before the shoot I headed out to the Mineola Nature Preserve for the Golden Hour with my camera in hand. The preserve is only about 15 minutes from the house and I knew I could get a great perspective shot on the main walking trail there. I didn't find it online or anything, I had just remembered the trail from a previous trip to the preserve. I'm not sure where you look up shoot locations online, but really I think it's about knowing the area and even driving around scouting out places before the shoot.

Walked around the preserve making note of what time it was at each location. The sun lasted longer than I thought and I realized I could get in a second location before I lost all lighting, so I headed to downtown Mineola. Mineola has this cute little downtown area with shops and restaurants and streetlights and a train station so I figured we could find something there. I started on a side road off the main street and although I hadn't planned to take pictures there the spot was perfect. Less traffic than the main road, beautiful red brick road, just what I was looking for.

After all the scouting I went home and looked at all the pictures, the lighting, the camera settings, made sure I liked the locations through the lens as much as I did in person. I searched a few more poses and gathered/made a few props, signed Kyle up to be my assistant and I was ready.

So here's what we packed:
 - the fancy camera, of course
 - one fully charged batter in the camera (I only have one right now or else I would have brought an extra)
 - one 16GB memory card in the camera (again would have brought an extra but only have one)
 - a foam board to use as a reflector as needed
 - a small stool
 - my tripod
 - blankets (in case anyone needed to sit on the ground)
 - a big Christmas ornament (didn't really use it)
 - my homemade paper banners.
We put most everything in a rolling suitcase and that helped. And Kyle, he helped too, I'm glad I didn't think I could do it all by myself and carry all that stuff...

We had a wonderful time, laughed lots, and they had a lot of patience for me when I said, "ooo wait, try this!" and "I know we've taken a lit, but I think you're going to love this one..." And then we all went to dinner and it really was the best time.

And for those of you who are interested in the final product, well the sort of final product (these are not edited much, Lauren has some nice editing software and did her own editing for their card). Here are a few of my favorites.

Aren't Lauren and Curtis just so cute and happy and in love? Aren't they so brave to come venture with me and let me take their pictures? We really did have a great time. I feel like I learned a lot, and after getting home and looking at my pictures I learned a lot more. Like how I'm not the best at using the auto-focus, or how I tend to frame the pictures a little high by almost cutting the feet off in every picture. But I'm learning.

And learning is the most fun... Happy Christmas-is-finally-here. Now I've just gotta get Kyle out to take our Christmas picture...

Have you taken your pictures yet? What do you think of my first shoot?? Yes, yes, they were brave.


  1. Great pictures Brittany. I'm glad you are enjoying your camera!! JH


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