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Holiday Guide

Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro: JOYST’s Holiday Photo Tip Sheet

November 17, 2016

Getting a great family photo often feels like a Sisyphean undertaking. You need to get everyone smiling, looking the same way, with their eyes open. It almost convinces you to find a photo-free card and call it a day. But let’s be honest, you’re not going to do that. Instead, here are the most important things you need to know to get a holiday photo you truly love. If You’re Hiring a Pro
  1. Try to schedule the shoot as soon as possible. Photographers are notoriously slammed shooting and editing family holiday photos from September through December, many even have a cut off date at the end of November to guarantee a perfect pic in time for holiday cards. If you missed this window, don’t stress. Find a trusted community of photographers who are ready to go at a moment’s notice—or at least 24 hours. That’s what Coverd does. You can schedule a photo shoot for the next day and get your proofs back 48 hours later. Talk about a time-saver. Bonus: Coverd is offering JOYST subscribers 10 percent off any package with the code JOYST 2016 through the end of the year.
  2. Timing is everything. It’s not just the month that matters, the hour of day you schedule the shoot for is crucial. If you have young children, think about when your kids are in the best mood, says photographer Christie Adams, who specializes in newborn and family portraits. Are they happiest first thing in the morning or after their nap? “I prefer to shoot in the morning when there is the most natural light and everyone, parents, too, are the freshest,” says Adams. “Just don’t drink too much coffee before hand,” says David Kranich of Coverd. “Your nervous energy might come across on film.”
  3. Consider hiring a photographer on your vacation. Plenty of free time + beautiful new places + calm, relaxed family = the perfect time for a photo shoot. Flytographer  connects you to a community of carefully vetted local photographers in 190 locations worldwide who will take stunning candid photos of you and family as you explore these new destinations.  They have a "Shoot Concierge" to ensure that booking a shoot in another city or foreign country is easy and fun; and after booking over 10,000 shoots over the past four years they know how to find the perfect spot.   Flytographer packages start at $250 for 30 minutes  for 15 digital images - though we prefer their longer sessions (get $25 off as a JOYST insider with the code JOYST through March 31); Shoot my Travel is a newer player in the space with packages starting at $265 for a 2-hour tour and photo shoot with 15 images.
If You’re Shooting It Yourself
  1. Don’t discount candid photos. “Getting everyone to look at the camera is really hard,” says Erin Brooks, iPhone photography expert and mother of a two kids ages 2 and 4. Instead, Brooks recommends capturing your kids in the moment of doing quintessential holiday things, like decorating the tree or holding strings of lights. “Get down on their level and close to their little faces. You will get the best emotion and candid photos end up having the most feeling.”
  2.     Learn how to use the iPhone camera features. “iPhones can take really incredible photos,” says Brooks. If you know how to use it right. She loves the new lighting and portrait features of the iPhone7 Plus, but older models can produce great results, too. You know when you’re about to take a photo and that yellowish square appears on your subject? “Tap on that square and drop the exposure down a bit to the darkest setting,” says Brooks. “Make sure nothing is blown out and then tap—you will be amazed by the results.”
  1. Download a great photo editing app. When there are hundreds of options available, how do you know which one is right for you? Often, it comes down to the look you want for your final product. To capture a softness that feels more like a film photo, Brooks’ hands-down favorites are RNI Films and RNI Flashback (fun fact: RNI = Really Nice Images). “Flashback is unlike any other app out there, which is why I love it,” she says. Flashback tries to re-create the film process and adds a filter in the way it thinks film chemicals would react to the tones in your images. Every time you tap to add the filter, it looks completely unique. “I just love the end result,” says Brooks. “ There’s something about the grainy feel that adds life to a photo.”


Kathleen Murray Harris

Kathleen brings two decades of editorial experience, as the former editor of RealSimple.com, Levo, & The Knot. As a working mom with 3 young kids, Kathleen knows the best tricks to save you time, money, & your sanity.