What a beautiful way to finish up 2019 with this gorgeous family of 5 portrait session at Harlinsdale Park in Franklin. This photo session was originally scheduled for November but we got rained out. We couldn’t reschedule right away because the family’s oldest daughter, Jessica, lives in New York so we rescheduled the session for when she would be home for the Christmas holidays. And what an amazing day it was! We could not have asked for more beautiful weather.
Merry Christmas everyone! This beautiful family isn’t able to get together often since some of them live in different parts of the country. Since they were all in town for their Christmas celebration, they wanted to be able to capture those memories in photographs, and I am so glad they did. It was such an honor to be a part of such love and laughter. I felt so at home with them that I could have easily slipped in and pretended to be another sibling. It was so much fun.
We had hoped to be able to take at least some of the photos outside, but the weather didn’t cooperate. But with the help of a large covered deck and a gorgeous red umbrella, we made it work.
I hope that the photos mean something special to them and that they can be treasured for years to come.
And I hope all of you have a very wonderful holiday season filled with lots of magical moments, laughter and love.
Here goes my annual plug in favor of sending holiday cards in the mail. In almost every other way, I tend to choose the greener, more efficient way of doing things. I loathe writing checks, and much prefer Venmo. I decide to do most things online rather than paper versions. I’m content reading an e-book.
But there is just something about receiving an old fashioned paper Christmas card in the mail. I particularly love the ones with family photos (I know…shocker.) I tape each one to our front door and admire them until well after the New Year.
But I know many of my friends and clients are overwhelmed about getting a Christmas card made and sent out, so I thought I’d offer a few tips to help you with this holiday task.
STEP 1: Getting the Photos
The most obvious choice for getting photos for your annual holiday card is to use the images from your yearly family portrait session.
You can also use photos you’ve taken throughout the year. Last year, my family went on a vacation to Toronto and Niagara Falls for Thanksgiving week. I used photos I took from that vacation (including some phone selfies!) for our holiday card, and everyone seemed to really enjoy them. So don’t think your holiday card has to be all fancy or posed. I haven’t decided this year whether to use vacation photos or the more formal ones I just took a few weeks ago of our family for this year’s Christmas card.
One of my best friends recently set up her phone to take a selfie photo of her family (including their sweet dog) in front of their fireplace. They propped up the phone on a shelf and then used a smartwatch to trigger the photo, but a timer would work fine too. She had the stockings all hung, and it looks super festive and cute. This is an excellent option if you didn’t have family photos made this year, or, if like her, you had spring photos made and want something more festive looking for your holiday card.
Another great option is to come to see Santa Claus and me at the Spring Station Middle School Holiday Market on December 7. Your $25 pre-order ticket includes admission to the Spring Station Holiday Market event for two adults and your children & digital photo downloads of your Santa visit that you can use for your holiday card! Book your spot now before they sell out.
STEP 2: Printing the Photo Cards
If you had pictures made with me this year, you could design and purchase a holiday card straight from your session photo gallery. There are lots of high-quality options, and they print and ship super fast.
If you are using your own photo, I recommend Mpix.com for all your printing needs, including Christmas & Holiday cards. They are having a 50% off sale on Christmas cards that ends today if you are ready to get it done.
And of course, there are plenty of other printing options, such as Shutterfly. I have found the print quality of cards from Shutterfly to be mixed, but with their sales and coupon codes, they are definitely a good choice if you are looking to save a few bucks.
I’m just going to remind you now that if you print professional photos at Walgreens, then a unicorn will die.
STEP 3: Mailing the Photos
I know some people insist that Christmas cards should be hand addressed and signed. I’m not one of those people. My list is huge, and in this case, I’m an advocate that done is better than perfect. So I make it easy on myself.
I either have the place I’m ordering cards from print my return address on the envelopes, or I use return address labels (this year, I got some on sale from Shutterfly).
I keep a document on my computer of addresses, formatted to print onto adhesive Avery address labels. Each year, I review the list to see if it requires changes and then print the labels to address my cards. If any cards are returned to me, I make sure to figure out why, and then edit the list accordingly for next year’s cards.
I’ve seen some people on Facebook using google forms to collect addresses of people who want to receive a card from them. That’s a great place to start if you are beginning from scratch, but be sure to save the addresses in printable form to use again next year to make it super easy for you.
Bonus tip: This year, I ordered discount Forever stamps from Ebay to save a few bucks on shipping the cards, which is good since I send out so many.
That’s it, then sit back and enjoy the rest of the holidays knowing you did your part in spreading cheer.
Gorgeous family photo session with some of my favorite people
Speaking of festive holiday cheer, check out these photos of one of my absolute favorite clients. I adore their clothing choices for this session – perfect for a holiday card, but not so Christmasy that they won’t look great hanging on their walls year-round. These kids keep me on my toes, but I adore them and always end up loving the photos of them. They are so full of life and personality, and everything I love about photographing young children.
To our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, God bless you and thank you.
How fitting that I’m sitting here writing this blog post on Veterans Day. Jennifer wanted to schedule this session because her husband will soon be leaving for military training for six months. She wrote “I would just love some memorable family pictures that my girls and myself can look at while he is gone and just have a fond memory and smile.”
She snagged a spot that had opened up fairly last minute because I had a client that needed to change to a different date. I’m so glad she did. I had photographed the family a couple years ago and it was so great to see these sweet girls, and how much they had grown.
The day could not had been more perfect, and we had a blast exploring and playing in the leaves. I love their energy so much. I couldn’t help but smile while I edited these pictures of their sweet family, and hope that they will be able to look upon them with fond memories during their time a part.
To all of those who serve our country, and to their families who support them, thank you for your service. 🇺🇸
About 20 minutes into this outdoor family portrait session, my camera suddenly refused to take a photo. I looked down at my camera screen, and saw a warning that said I had a memory card error, and to remove the defective card. The card was somehow damaged, and could not be accessed at all. All of the photos I had taken of these beautiful girls so far, were not on the card.
That might have been a moment of panic. For an hour long session, 20 minutes of shooting is a significant number of photos. And the girls had done such an amazing job. We had sang and danced and giggled in the gorgeous light of the most beautiful yellow tree at Thompson Station Park.
But instead of panicking and mourning the loss of those pictures, I simply popped out that memory card and replaced it with another one. You see, I wasn’t worried about losing images, because my camera holds two memory cards. When I take photos, the images are copied to both cards, so that even during a session, I always have a backup. One card was damaged, but the other one was just fine, and had all the photos from the first part of the session. So I just continued shooting without issue, with a new card from my bag as a second backup.
In fact, I always have two copies of your portrait session images. Once I get home from a session, I immediately copy one of the memory cards onto my computer. The other memory card from the session is then stored in a case, not be erased until I have uploaded the session to my online gallery, at which point I’ll have a copy online and a copy on my hard drive.
And I am so glad there are, because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss one photo of these amazing girls. This is the third year now that I’ve been blessed to photograph this wonderful family. Last year, I wrote about how much I love to see repeat clients each year, and that’s still true today. Seeing how these young ladies grow and change each year is one of the best parts of my job. ❤️
I joined the MOMS Club of Spring Hill in 2009, the day after I left my job as an Engineer at General Motors. It was during the big recession, GM was bankrupt, and the plant was closing. I had a new baby, a toddler, and no desire to be transferred to another facility, so I was out the door. Honestly, I was pretty excited about it.
Since I’d had the girls, I’d been pretty torn about working full time, but also nervous about living on one income. It all worked out for the best.
I had a friend from work who had told me about his wife’s involvement in the Spring Hill MOMS Club. I’d met her a few times, and she seemed nice. I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands, and a toddler who needed to get out of the house sometimes, so the day after I left GM, I showed up at one of their meetings.
It turned out to be a fantastic decision for me. It’s where I spent the next five years, eventually becoming president for several years. It’s where I met my mom tribe and the women who still get me through the hard days of parenthood. It’s a club meant for those with small children, so eventually, I “graduated” and left officially, but the women I met there are still a massive part of my life. Some I see often. Others I see rarely but follow along with their lives on social media. All of them are important to me.
These women were also hugely instrumental in me becoming a photographer. I joined around the same time I became interested in photography. And I photographed EVERYTHING…Playdates, holiday parties, and everything in between. The other moms encouraged me and let me practice. They made me feel like I was capturing something special, and not just the annoying woman who always had the camera out. My Facebook Timehop is filled with those memories, and I am so glad to have them.
At some point, it moved from just me casually taking photos at events, to friends asking if I would shoot their yearly family photos. I was grossly unqualified and had no idea what I was doing, but they encouraged me anyway. That’s when I really started to figure out my style, what I loved to photograph, and that photography was indeed something I was passionate about pursuing. Those sessions helped me practice and learn, and eventually, almost five years ago now, I turned it into a real business.
Jennie was one of those moms. I photographed a session for her family seven years ago. There are a lot of photos from that period that I look back on and cringe at, but I like looking at that session. I feel like I’ve improved a lot since then, but I feel like I can start to see my style emerging in those. They moved to Murfreesboro years ago, and I haven’t seen her in years, so I was excited when she asked me to photograph a combination Senior / Family Session.
I had not looked back at that session in years, but after I got home from shooting this week’s session, I wanted to go back and look at them. I was surprised to see that a lot fo the pics I took this week lined up nicely as a side-by-side comparison from seven years ago. They say time flies, but there is nothing like looking at photos like these to make it hit home. Was that really SEVEN years ago? And how did these babies turn into beautiful teens, with McKenna ready for COLLEGE???
We used to joke about how someday, maybe I would photograph Senior portraits for the kids. But now it’s happening already. I’m not sure I’m ready for that. I swear, last week, we were handing out juice boxes at the Giraffe Age Group Playdates.
Anyway, that was a lot of rambling. Mostly I wanted to say to all my MOMS Club peeps…thanks for encouraging & supporting me all these years. And to Jennie…dang you did good, mama. You raised three amazing babies.