If you are ready to make your Christmas cards, you may be in the midst of planning your holiday photo sessions. From clothing choices to the location, you have plenty of decisions to make. Consider doing a holiday photo shoot of your children with you as the photographer. Whether you have experience behind the camera or not, you can capture amazing, unplugged, beautiful moments that offer an insight into your child’s life that is tough even for professionals to capture. 

3 Tips To Make Your Children’s Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly

Children can be difficult to direct in front of a camera, but it is well worth it when you snap a photograph that only a parent could capture. You can follow some key advice to help make your children’s holiday photo session go well. 

1. Help your children become comfortable at the photo shoot location.

Allow your children to play lightly and relax for a minute before the shoot. Even if you have a lot on your mind, remember that your children need to be showing a positive attitude in the photos (and that’s not something they can fake or that you can force). Note that you want them to be energetic and happy, but not out of control and rowdy.

3 Tips To Make Your Children's Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly featuring the Smocked Holiday Dress Feltman Brothers on Theresa's Reviews www.theresasreviews.com

Choose clothing that fits well and that has comfortable fabric. Simple cotton fabric with festive stitching is preferable to items with too many embellishments, such as sequins and beads. For our holiday photos, Georgiana wore the Smocked Holiday Dress from Feltman Brothers.

Not only did the dress have incredibly soft fabric, but since it was loose, she was delighted to move around, and she had the most serene look on her face for the whole photo shoot. Feltman Brothers has a wide variety of soft, comfortable holiday outfits that not only look beautiful on camera, but also make children happy.3 Tips To Make Your Children's Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly featuring the Smocked Holiday Dress Feltman Brothers on Theresa's Reviews www.theresasreviews.com

Another strategy to help your child become comfortable at the location is to let your children relax and know that every second doesn’t have to be full of picture-perfect smiles. Sometimes, a picture that doesn’t look posed can offer a delightful peek into your child’s world.
3 Tips To Make Your Children's Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly featuring the Smocked Holiday Dress Feltman Brothers on Theresa's Reviews www.theresasreviews.com

Getting your child to relax and be comfortable is the key to a good shoot. As tempting as it can be to resort to bribing your child with candy or giving your child a toy, these props can be a big distraction in your photo. To get the most from your photo shoot, schedule it for a time when your child is well rested, happy, and not hungry.

2. Make eye contact behind the camera.

When you have your camera set up, raise your eye level just above the camera and engage your child in light conversation. When your child looks right above the camera into your eyes, the photo will look as though your child looked right in the camera.

3 Tips To Make Your Children's Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly featuring the Smocked Holiday Dress Feltman Brothers on Theresa's Reviews www.theresasreviews.com

Using this strategy can also help lighten your child’s mood. When you break eye contact, your child can become nervous and start to look posed and stiff. 3 Tips To Make Your Children's Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly featuring the Smocked Holiday Dress Feltman Brothers on Theresa's Reviews www.theresasreviews.com

With toddlers, you can make silly jokes to make their face look more lively and natural. Mention their nose (and add in rhyming words, such as toes), and you will get gorgeous grins. As you watch your child’s nervousness fade away, they can show their personality more. 

3. Have your camera out and ready to shoot, since your child may decide when you have enough pictures.

Children are notoriously fickle with their choices. Have your camera on the right settings and be prepared to snap photos. I usually take multiple pictures with my Panasonic GH4 in one setting, and I keep my cell phone nearby for additional photos or video if needed. 

Since children are very active, you should be prepared to move around to get the right shot. This is not the time to set up a tripod, unless your child is usually very still.

During our recent photo shoot, I learned how important the first shot is. Georgiana insisted we walk out on a golf course to get a photo in front of a fountain. I assumed that I would snap away until I found just the right shot. After I took the first photo, Georgiana immediately ran away and said, “That’s enough photos, mom, you got it!”

3 Tips To Make Your Children's Holiday Photo Session Go Smoothly featuring the Smocked Holiday Dress Feltman Brothers on Theresa's Reviews www.theresasreviews.com

Usually, I shoot until I get just the right shot, and I like to have more photos rather than too few. When you take photos of children, you might have to settle with the first few you take. Nail the shot early, and you walk away with a photo you love.

Do you take photos of your children for the holidays, or do you hire a professional? Share any photo tips in the comments.

For more holiday ideas, follow Theresa’s Reviews on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flipboard and Youtube. You can also check out the Gift Guide section.


I received a free item, but it in no way influenced my opinion.

About The Author

Owner And Editor

Theresa has been writing since 2010 in magazines and online. Her lifestyle and parenting expertise has been featured in publications, including ShopSmart and Scholastic. She earned an M.Ed in Elementary Education from Vanderbilt as well as a BA in History from Flagler College, and she is a certified teacher.

58 Responses

  1. Dogvills

    Getting small kids to pose for a photo can be tough. You are right about nailing the shots early. Most kids don’t have the patience for lengthy photo shoots.

  2. Kecia

    This is such a cute dress! Any kind of photos are difficult to get of my two active boys. I have learned that you can’t wait for the perfect shot. You have to keep snapping and hope you capture one or two good ones!

  3. Anna

    Wow these are great tips! Never thought about the looking above the camera trick or letting them play at the photoshoot.

  4. Angela Tolsma

    I find these all apply to adults too. It’s usually why I like the interval timer option. I can set it up to capture a set amount of images and go play in front of the camera with whoever until they are relax and we get some great shots doing it

  5. Kate

    Love the eye contact tip. So simple but brilliant! I’m trying this next time for sure!

  6. Amanda

    I wish I was the cool mom that did Christmas card pictures…I’ve planned it a few times but it never happened! Your daughter is beautiful!

  7. Debra

    I love holiday cards around this time of year and making sure I get a good shot is important, thanks for the tips!

  8. Debbie

    Omg your daughter is precious!! The dress is too cute on her!! Great advice here and great pics! Making eye contact behind the camera is key for us, especially if it’s a professional shoot because my son gets nervous.

  9. Dana Vento

    Those pic are so adorable! Such a helpful tips. Holiday is coming so we need that thanks!

  10. Erin

    These are great suggestions!! I’m going to need them for our holiday pictures in a couple of weeks!

  11. Sandra

    Thanks for sharing these tips and just in time for Christmas photo’s. I love the idea of having your child make eye contact above the camera as that is always an issue for me.

  12. Jasmine

    These are great tips, thanks! There’s nothing more frustrating than getting the kids all dolled up for photos and not getting any good shots!

  13. Annie

    Your little is absolutely adorable! These are great tips — I’ll be using these as I attempt to take our own holiday pictures this year. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

    Annie | SomethingAboutNavy.com

  14. Sara

    Beautiful photos. I love getting great shots of my granddaughters but it’s not always easy. Love the tips for getting natural smiles from toddlers!

  15. Kimberly

    I need to set up our photos this week! I can’t believe I haven’t done it yet, but we’ve been so busy with the new baby coming.

  16. Louise Bishop

    when I take photos. especially of younger ones, I always make it funny in some way. It has to be in order to keep their mind focused and relaxed.

  17. Heather

    These are the best tips! We took our photos last week for Christmas and #1 is a must. Getting the kids comfortable makes the pictures look so much better!

  18. karen

    Ahhh…the adoreable-ness of this child is amazing! Great tips about the photos, especially about making sure that they are comfortable. That ensures a natural (and super cutey!) photo…

  19. Melissa

    I wish I had read this yesterday. We are on our way home from photos, and it was crazy. He was totally overwhelmed.

  20. Jessi

    I just did a photo shoot myself with my 2 and 4 year old and within 5 min they were over it! Lol. I’ll be using these tips next time! Thanks

  21. Heather

    I always do our Christmas pictures, and it is always a toss up to how well they go. There is always one of the kids in a bad mood…perhaps I need to take all separate pictures!

  22. Amanda Love

    I love these tips! Their comfort means that you’ll be able to take great photos without much hassle. It’s also important that you talk about it before the actual shoot so they’ll be excited as well.

  23. Taylor Mobley

    She is so stinking cute! I don’t have kids so I don’t need to worry about it but I am sure this helped lots of parents with squirmy kiddos!

  24. chanel

    Such great tips! my kids are complete nutballs when trying to get pictures. i don’t even try to pose them anymore, haha!

  25. Georgiana

    Thanks for the tips! It seems I never get it quite right when I’m actually trying–only get it right accidentally. You have great photos here 😀

  26. Mary Barham

    These are great tips! I plan on taking pictures next week, and I am totally nervous about it! My kids are a hit or miss! Hopefully these tips will help 🙂

  27. Dean of Little Steps

    She looks like an angel! Love her white dress. Now if only I’ll remember these tips when taking photos of my little girl who just loves to make funny faces just as I click.

  28. Ellen Oliveira

    These are such great tips. We had a photoshoot a couple of months back and our best shots were candid ones, 3 kids under 4! We got through it!! I’ll keep these in mind for next time.

  29. Stacy- Taylor411

    These are great tips! Photo shoots are our biggest struggle. My toddler tries to run, my husband doesn’t smile. Out of 40 pictures, we usually get one good one lol. Her pictures turned out Gorgeous, love them!

  30. Danielle

    I love how you point out that your kids will run the photo shoot and decide when you have enough pics. I don’t have kids but trying to snap shots of my nephew definitely confirms that!!! LOL this is great and your photos are adorable! P.S. We use the same theme 😉

    Danielle | FollowMyGut.com <3

  31. Mommy Blogger: Candace Ann

    Very beautiful pictures. I struggle a lot with lighting. The inside of my house is shady and shadowy and messes up the shots, a lot. Outside is the best for me. Also, just having the camera available was a good tip. They are only in the mood to smile for so long. Got to snap it quick.

  32. April

    The thought of family photo shoots literally makes me break into a cold sweat. Thanks for the tips and pointers to help it run smoothly!

  33. Tiffany | shortsweetmom

    These are great tips. Getting good pictures of munchkins can be a real challenges. I especially like your tip on letting your child get comfortable with their surroundings. Thank you for these helpful tips that will come in very handy!

  34. Christine - The Choosy Mommy

    I couldn’t agree more with getting your child comfortable wherever you are. So many times we have gone for a photo shoot and 20-30 minute into the shoot my kids are finally happy and playing around and wasted that first 20-30 minutes clinging to me instead. Always go a little early to check out the area and get the kids comfy!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.