So ever since the beginning of time (or the beginning of Pinterest, anyway), I have wanted to take photos of my babies playing with Christmas lights. At Jaylee’s first Christmas, it just wasn’t going to happen. We were still getting our feet wet with the whole parenthood thing, and just getting her 6 month photos done at home was a challenge enough in itself. But this year, for Jax’s first Christmas – I decided it was time to finally take the dive and give it a shot.
My husband is a fantastic photographer, and really talented behind the lens of a camera. But this was really technical photography – and really difficult! I found this tutorial that gave some base camera settings for shooting Christmas light photos in different moods, and then we just tried it out.
Taking photos of kids is hard anyway, but taking photos of kids in the dark with weird lighting is even more challenging. The whole time that Jordan was taking photos of Jax, I was sitting right outside the camera view ready to catch the inevitable tumbles (he’s not great at sitting just yet).
And then while Jax was playing with the lights and taking his photos, Jaylee spent the whole time trying to either look into the front of the lens of the camera, or do what daddy was doing (looking at the back of the camera and pushing buttons). To say it was challenging is an understatement.
But the photos turned out beautiful, and I’m really glad that we did them. We discovered that waiting until the sun had started to set was good, but we also needed more ambient light than we expected. If there wasn’t any ambient light in the room, the kids’ faces were too dark. And a lot of the photos ended up with what we called “constellations” of reflected light circling around their heads. Which is just really distracting in a black and white photo. And black and white (ish) is what I wanted. We ended up turning on some of the lights in the room to get just the right balance of ambient light to make the photos not too dark.
Our hardwood floors made a great surface because they reflected the light back up onto the kids. They’re also probably what caused the “constellations” that ruined some of the pictures. But I like that these photos look so beautiful and magical, and yet when I look closely, I can see that this is in my dining room. And the fact that these photos were taken at home makes them even more special to me.
We have more plans for Jax’s regular 6 month photos, which we will do ourselves. And then we also have an appointment with a photo studio to get some photos of all 4 of us together – Jordan decided he likes a mix of the natural “artsy” photos and the posed studio look. As many times as we’ve invested in photos of our family, I have never regretted it. So I have no problem spending some money for the studio look if that’s what Jordan wants.
But its also really nice to have a photographer on staff to get these kind of photos at home on the spur of the moment. 🙂 We also do a family photo exchange with some good friends of ours (who are also photographers with children the same age as ours). We took pictures of each others’ family in the fall, and we plan to do it again in the spring.
Really, if you don’t have a photographer in your life – you should get one. Or learn to do it yourself. Capturing magical moments like these are totally worth it (even if the behind-the-scenes isn’t quite so magical).