Dec 27, 2007

Christmas Photo Gifts

Photographs make great gifts! A client and also a good friend opened our gift to her and she said she nearly cried. Why? Oh, it may just be these adorable photos of her toddler in a collage frame. She had no idea had done the photo shoot while we were babysitting the little tike; so it was a complete surprise.

We did the same kind of gift for my uncle and aunt this Christmas. When we went to visit during Thanksgiving, we set up a simple backdrop in the front room and did some quick headshots while the parents were taking a nap. The 3 boys loved the attention, and since we knew we only wanted headshots, we were done in about 10 minutes.

Here's what we learned about doing these kinds of gifts.

1. Get the frame first. The frame and matting will guide you as to the coloring and the style of the shots you will have taken. For example, the 3 boys' frame dictated black and white photos for a very modern look.

2. Think about clothing. Our friend's little toddler wasn't wearing an outfit that would have looked right in the picture, so we changed him into the cute striped shirt that you see above. Because we were doing headshots of the 3 boys, the only thing that really mattered is that the top of their shirts look the same.

3. Preplan poses and backgrounds. In each of these photo shoots, we used a simple backdrop cloth to cut out all the "busy-ness" behind the subjects. We often use just a bed sheet or a length of material. It works great for little bodies like these.

4. Make the shoot a playful experience. Kids faces don't lie: if they're having fun, it shows. If they aren't, well that shows too. Since we are parents ourselves, we have experience in the getting a fussy kid to smile realm. We usually have props to coax smiles out of our subjects.

5. After the shoot, try out several arrangements of the photos before ordering the final prints. We cropped and tweaked our favorite photos and then printed them out from our computer to arrange on the frame. It was great to have something tangible to play around with before making any print purchases. It also made it easy to visualize the final product.

8. Assemble with care. Have your photos printed and set them into the frame. Be careful not to smudge the glass on the inside of the frame, and give yourself time to make small adjustments to the photo placement in the mat.

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