For many portrait photographers, the holidays are "the" busy time. Back to back mini sessions for several weekends between October and November, leading up to Christmas. Fifteen minutes to get relaxed, look happy, and pack up. Of course some families prefer a quick family photo together for a Christmas card - and that's totally okay! Those photographers make it work and I applaud them for it! It just isn't my thing, and to be honest, it sounds darn stressful and beyond exhausting. Instead, I choose to accept fewer clients, allowing for longer sessions. This allows me the time and ability to offer not just a holiday photo session, but an experience.
When Ariana arrived at my West Lawn studio, she was quick to inform me that she was ready to grow up and no longer be a kid. I noticed her mom's heart breaking a little, glancing at her little girl, whose age has yet to even reached double digits. It's a bit of sadness that every parent feels...but I was confident that she would still see that her baby could still embrace her childhood.
After a bit of small talk with her parents and getting them settled in with a toasty beverage and tv, I pulled the holiday dresses my closet.
This year, I decided to make holiday photo planning even easier by including a selection of dresses for both girls and women for their portraits. These dresses coordinate so well with the Christmas and holiday sets!
Ariana slipped into the sky blue dress, admiring herself in the full length mirror. She made her way to the photo room, which had been transformed into a winter wonderland. Within moments, she was dancing in the snow, her tiny voice shouting, "I feel like a kid again!"
Rather than saying, "look at the camera and smile", I always prefer interacting with children (don't worry, adults, I won't ever tell you to fake smile, either!). For the most natural photos, I have a few fun activities planned during their experience.
In between dressing the snowman and having a snowball fight, Ariana ran to her mom. "Do I look 5? Because I feel like I'm 5 again! I'm a kid!" Mom's shoulders relaxed and she breathed gently, her daughter not realizing how special those words were to hear.
She would have happily played in the snow forever but she was also excited that a new Christmas set meant a new coordinating dress! The champagne couture gown is adorned with glittery gold stars and pops out beautifully against this living room.
While food is never allowed near dresses, I did make an exception for Christmas cookies (of course after first explaining that it's still important to be careful). After all, what's the holiday season without tasty treats?!
This little girl is a bendy straw, never missing an opportunity to show off her flexibility. She was so excited to be able to sit in a split for a few photos!
The Holiday Experience lasted approximately one hour, which is the average length of each type of session offered. Following completion of the session, Ariana excitedly ran to my toy boxes and played "Dream Dress Experience" with the variety of Barbies and "couture gowns".
As she continued to allow herself to embrace youth, her parents and I chatted a bit, as I prepped her photos for immediate viewing. Just a short while later, mom and dad were cuddled on the couch, watching their baby girl on the tv screen. Image after image flashed in front of them, as they excitedly commented, "oh, that one is my favorite, too!" and "oh, I love that one!"
Each session always includes prints ready to hang on the wall, rather than digital files that will only collect dust. I'm so excited for their selected images to add an even more festive look during the holiday season!