Hints & Tips for the Perfect Winter Wonderland Christmas Mini Session
Thanks so much for booking one of my Winter Wonderland Christmas Mini Studio Photo Sessions. My customers totally love these sessions and many come back year after year. This magical studio set up is so much fun and the kids LOVE it. A boring flat backdrop this is not! I have lovingly created the most magical 3D set of beautiful hand-sculpted paper trees, plenty of snow, a vintage sledge all housed in my studio in Cowbridge, South Wales.
This guide will give you all of the information you need before your session. I have 15 years experience planning photoshoots for my customers and I am sharing that information with you so you can do everything to facilitate a perfect session experience!
Let’s start with the most commonly asked question. “What on earth should we wear?!”
What to Wear
The first thing to consider when planning your outfits is that you are comfortable in your clothing. It should also reflect the type of style that you usually wear. If your little girl prefers to be in jeans rather than dresses don’t rock the boat and make her wear something she’d rather not be seen in!! You should basically be shiny versions of your usual selves.
Try to co-ordinate outfits without looking too ‘matchy’ in fact eclectic combos work really well. Avoid wearing the same colours and instead, find a colour palette you love and piece together items from that palette that are complimentary to one another.
The Christmas set is quite modern and VERY white! There are two ways you could go in regards to colour combinations. The first is neutral and classic. The other option (and I think my favourite) is to go BRIGHT! Strong colours work really well and certainly have a more festive theme. It’s also fun to dress as if you were actually outdoors. Think colourful scarves and even bobble hats. You could even dig out the festive jumper a bit early if you like.
Layers are fantastic for boys and girls. Add layers (jackets, waistcoats, leggings and tights) and accessories (hats, scarves, bowties and headbands).
Avoid clothing with cartoon characters, large logos or anything that will date your photos.
Finally, and arguably the most important point is this. Make sure you love the outfits you are all wearing. This might sound totally obvious but your feelings about the outfit can really influence how you feel about an image. If you don’t like the outfit, chances are you won’t like the image – however beautiful it is!
Why not grab some inspiration from my Pinterest board? If in doubt, just get in touch. I am more than happy to help.
I am sure you have your favourite ‘go-to’ clothing retailers but I’d love to share with you some of my favourites with you.
Here’s my best advice!
It’s always my key priority that you have a relaxing and enjoyable photo shoot experience. For me it’s almost as important as the images themselves. If you look back on the session with fondness then you’ll view your images the same way! It’s a win win.
I’ve put together the following hints and tips based on my experience. Believe me I’ve seen it all. Kids are unpredictable at times and I am more than used to it as a mother and as a specialist family photographer. I’ve been told I have the patience of a saint but it mainly comes down to the fact that I love kids and I love my job. I’m also a big kid at heart!
I’ll be upfront with you – Winter Wonderland Christmas Mini Sessions are CRAZY. They are kind of meant to be. The kids just love throwing the snowballs, playing with the ‘snow’ and they generally have a ball. What better way to capture pure, natural joy and fun? As a mum myself I know that kids aren’t angels all the time so please don’t get stressed about how your children ‘perform’ on the day! I know how to engineer the perfection in the (sometimes) chaos. It’s taken years to master!
Hopefully these hints & tips will help you on the road to know what to expect and have a relaxing, stress free and enjoyable experience.
what to bring
You don’t need to bring much with you but here is a list of things you might want to consider:
- A drink and a snack (see advice on treats below)
- Milk if you are bottle feeding
- Wet wipes or tissues are handy for runny noses
- A favourite toy – especially if it is photogenic and of sentimental value. If it’s not then leave it in the car or buried deep in your bag (see advice on treats below)
Don’t feel you need to bring tons with you.
treat or not to treat?
The great question! Do you bribe your kids or not? Well here’s my advice…
Some parents tell their children that they will have a special treat after the session if they are good. This is discussed before you arrive on your shoot. Typically it’s a trip to a restaurant, an ice-cream or perhaps some sweets for a treat. If you decide to do this (and it’s up to you) then don’t keep reminding them about it during the shoot. It’ll just wet their appetite and they’ll want it right then and there instead of having their photo taken!
Some parents also bring a treat with them such as a special snack. This is absolutely no problem but keep it hidden in your bag until you REALLY need it. It’s a last resort ONLY. Given too early will typically result in them wanting more and more and more!
no cheese please
In this selfie obsessed era, children as young as 2 can already have developed their selfie face! Seriously, I’ve seen a change in recent years!
There are two types of smiles – fake and real. It’s the real smiles I want. Those smiles that show in the eyes and the giggles that come from deep in the belly! I have my methods of encouraging real smiles – sometimes they involve gentle toilet humour but I’ll always check that with you first.
Please, please don’t be tempted to ask your children to smile for the camera and say cheese, even if they seem grumpy to you. I WILL get those smiles but it’s got to be authentic.
Trust and leave it to me. I’ve totally got this. This leads us on very nicely to…
posing vs. non-posing
What? Posing is what you might be used to or expecting from your photoshoot. The photographer carefully poses you and asks you to smile and look at the camera. Well, I won’t be asking you to do this (well maybe for one shot!).
Grown ups typically don’t know where to look, how to stand, what to do with their face or hands – it’s quite normal! Instead I prefer the art of un-posing. I’ll simply place you in the right light and then ask you to play games with your children, twirling, telling stories and jokes, tickling and playing games. I want to capture the authentic connection between you and your family; not just a likeness of your faces.
Oh, and I never want you to look at the camera! Look at your children, they’re much more fun!
I touched on this in my introduction. No kid is an angel 100% of the time. That’s just stupid talk. There is a chance your child/ren will not behave in the way you’d like during the session and that’s fine.
They key to what I do is building up trust and a relationship with the children I photograph. I’ll often start the session by just talking to them (I’m not ignoring you, I promise!) about stuff they like. I’m pretty good at judging children. Their attention spans are typically short and I respect that totally. Little and often usually works well. If you feel your child is misbehaving please don’t be tempted to reprimand them and tell them off. This will have a really negative effect and often lead to tears. If they have a total meltdown the you might need to step in but in the meantime leave it to me.
Please remember that the safety of your children is your responsibility at all times during the session. Although I keep equipment to a minimum, there might be a few hazards to be mindful of.
In these current times we are all much more aware of potential hazards. Rest assured that the studio is cleaned prior to every session. If you have little ones that like to crawl or run (!) then I may have to call on your assistance to get them back into the shooting area on occasions to minimise contact if necessary..
Rest assured, I have full public liability insurance but I would much prefer not to be in a situation that that ever needs to be used!
How to Find Me
The venue is my studio in Cowbridge. The Studio is a little hidden away in the depths of Penllyn Estate Farm but it’s dead easy to get to and there is plenty of parking on site.
Sat Nav’s can struggle to find me! It is best if you follow my simple directions below if you can. There have been a lot of changes with new roads over the last 6 months and it seems maps have been slow to catch up. If in doubt, please just give me a call.
Here are some directions to help you find me.
The address is:
Penllyn Estate Farm, Cowbridge CF71 7FF
If you are coming from the direction of Cardiff, head west on the A48 towards Cowbridge. You’ll head over the Cowbridge flyover and reach a roundabout. Take the third exit signposted Penllyn Estate and the Forage Farm Shop. Head down the road and you’ll see the farm shop on your left. At the end of the road is a mini roundabout. Turn right and you’ll see Maes Glas Vets on your left and Cowbridge Cabins on your right. Take the left turning into the Vet’s car park (through the wooden fence) and park your car anywhere near the barrier in the car park.
If you are coming from the direction of Bridgend, head east on the A48. Just before you reach the Cowbridge turn off you’ll see a new roundabout. Take the first exit signposted Penllyn Estate and the Forage Farm Shop and follow the directions as above.
I also recommend using the wonderful navigation app called What3Words. I use this a lot for directing my customers to on location photoshoot locations. The What3Words to locate the studio parking area are: ///mascots.mush.ally
Once you arrive please drop me a text on 07852 255766 and I will come out and met you.
P.S One other important thing to mention is that the farm is very much a working farm. Although it is very quiet on the weekend it can be a little muddy on the very short walk from the car park to the studio if it’s been raining.
I’m really looking forward to meeting you!
I know that seems like a lot to take in! The most important thing to remember is to be yourself and don’t get stressed out with the thought of your kids not being their best. These photos are going to record your family as they really are – that authentic connection can’t be forced.
Rest assured I have lots of experience of creating beautiful images for my customers and I look forward to doing the same for you!