House For Six

The Family Picture Swap

Deme Crinion2 Comments
A couple weeks ago I stumbled on this post by Jackie from Teal & Lime.  She explained how her family managed to grab some great family photos by swapping photos sessions with another family.  Basically both families head out to a great location armed with cameras and take turns snapping photos for each other.  While I completely recognize the value of a professional who knows their stuff (and camera equipment much better than I do), this cost effective option seemed worth a try...not at all because of my procrastination in scheduling a photo session.  Not one bit.

We were holding out for some snow (pretty white backdrop!), but with not a snowflake in the forecast we dressed the family in festive clothes, wiped the tears over the "lame sweater", and met our friends at a nearby park on a chilly winter afternoon.  (First tip: unless there's some sort of beautiful snowy background you really want to capture, go when it's warm-ish.  You'll have more time and less cranky kids).

We both brought our cameras, and I had mine set up on the tripod for the first set.  We made sure to capture the full family photos first, since we both wanted those for a potential Christmas card.  We went to a park that had beautiful trees, trails, and an old barn...which gave us plenty of options for different shots.  (Second tip:  in hindsight we should have had both cameras snapping at the same time...but there were babies that needed to be corralled and kept from eating pine cones.  If you can swing it though - use both!)

Clearly, we captured a lot of these:  

Which I sort of love.  While a perfectly posed shot is nice, it doesn't really capture those larger than life personalities.  And ultimately I think people enjoy seeing those pictures just as much if not more than the "nice ones".  (Third tip:  snap, snap, snap! I took over one hundred pictures between our families which ensured we came out with at least one good photo and whole lot more to laugh over and enjoy).
Don't be afraid to capture those less than posed moments.  Pictures of your family interacting with each other and their surroundings makes for some great candid shots.

I randomly snapped this one after taking pics of our friends' family.  James was keeping her bundled up in a blanket off to the side and it ended up being my favorite shot of the day.
(Fourth tip: Have an idea of what you would like to do, but be flexible.  I spent some time looking at family photos on Pinterest to get an idea of setting/poses/angles we might like to try, [and we did bring along a few props] but ultimately we tried a couple different things for each family and called it a day.)

The biggest benefit to this type of setup is how comfortable the setting is - you're with friends, so likely much more at ease than with someone you don't know.  I would even recommend sharing a photography session with friends even if you do use a professional. It will just add to the ease and keep the experience fun.

We went late in the afternoon and as the sun began to set, the temps dropped right along with it.  We rushed the last few pics of the kids and didn't get to snap any of just the adults, but it was absolutely a great hour spent!  My friend and I are both still learning our cameras and we took away some great lessons learned to make the next time even better.

That night we uploaded our pics to a shared dropbox folder so we could pick and chose photos to edit.  I've always made our Christmas cards in the past, but this year I went with Minted.  The cards are slated to arrive today and I can't wait to see them!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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