Yes, it's too early to prepare for Christmas. Agreed. However my creative wheels know no calendar!
There are few things more stressful than trying to make your child sit. and. smile. to get a good picture to share with family and friends, many of whom probably aren't of the social media generation and don't know what the kids look like these days.
First and foremost, don't expect kids under the age of 6 to sit and smile. They might, but chances are you'll get frustrated, they'll shut down, and even if the picture turns out okay you won't have a happy memory attached to it. Go out and play with your kids. Get them to laugh. Capture them doing their thing, and you just might be surprised how great the pictures turn out!
Another idea is to get them involved in the set up of the photo. Take pictures of them hanging ornaments on the tree in your backyard. Or dare them to wear their Christmas stockings on their heads. Bottom line -- fun=better pictures!
The smaller kids are the easier it is to manipulate them. Last year, at 18 months old, I stood my daughter on an ottoman so she couldn't run away, stuck a candy cane in her mouth, and got The Shot. (Even though her face was covered in sticky pink spit. Yuck.)
The year before, she was only 6 months old, so we wrapped a Pampers box in wrapping paper, stuck her Bumbo inside it, put a Santa hat on her head, and voila! If you have multiple kids, have them each wrap their own box, in size order, and line them up in front of the tree. If you have another one on the way, close the lid and put a bow on it!
Now here's where we get to the REALLY fun creative one. These were inspired by the Mila's Daydreams photos that were really popular a few years ago. This works best with infants who are old enough to wiggle and grin, but too young to roll all over the place and grab objects.
Meet Lucas. I put out a call on my Facebook page for a baby his size, and within two days I had my own little model sporting the most adorable outdoorsy winter outfit! The setup here was a plain white blanket, a shimmery fringed blanket, a handful of cotton balls, two white pillow cases and a stack of twigs Kate helped me collect in the front yard.
The most important thing is to just use what you have! I didn't go out and buy a single thing for this. If you have green towels, make a Christmas tree! If you have a Santa suit, fashion a mantle out of a scarf, hang socks from it, and hand him or her a sack of toys. Do a Candy Land theme. Or a nativity scene. Just have fun with it!
The key thing here is to have your camera lens totally parallel to the floor in order to get the two-dimensional look. And that means strapping your camera to your body so you don't accidentally drop it on the baby! You'll also need to climb up high enough, so it's best to have another adult there to spot you.
In this one, taken a couple years ago, I again based the scene solely on what I had laying around the house. If I'd gone out to purchase any elements I would have been frustrated if something didn't work out right. Instead, I have wonderful memories of Kate giggling at the sound of the camera shutter.
Hopefully you'll be inspired to get easy-going-ly creative this year, and let me know what you come up with!