Happy December 1st you guys! The countdown is officially on. For the past two weeks there’s been nonstop hustle and bustle of Holiday preparation in our house. We set up our lights and the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve been slowly bringing out remaining decorations from the garage all week. But now the house is ready and I’m loving it!

This year I’m really looking forward to enjoying December and hope it will be somewhat normal haha! Last year my husband was away for training the entire Holiday season. He returned a few days before Christmas, and we almost immediately hopped on a plane to visit his family on the East Coast. The year before we didn’t get to spend Christmas together at all because he was deployed.

Now that our family is a complete set for the holiday I was excited to organize a Christmas family pictures. This is a big deal because no one in our family likes to take photos except for me. I blame my dad and his photography hobby for my obsession with the camera.

So when my friend was visiting last weekend, I asked her to snap a few shots for us. Predictably, my family was not into this idea so I had to bribe kids with ice cream and remind husband how much he loves his wife 🙂 We got all decked out and went on a drive around the neighborhood to find a cute spot. The background didn’t matter to me. Something neutral and reflective of the Tucson living is all we wanted.

holiday family photos outfits

Kids “cheerfully” posed while mom was adjusting settings on the camera 🙂

My Nikon D5500 was a Christmas gift from husband last year, and I am only now starting to feel comfortable shooting in manual mode. It is SO FUN though!  Especially when I’m shooting with the 50 mm lens. The aperture can go as low as 1.8 which creates amazing depth of field if you want a completely blurred background.

But honestly even if you don’t have a DSLR camera, your cell phone will do! Most phones nowadays have better lenses than some of my older “real” cameras. As for editing photos, you can bring more light, adjust exposure, make colors more vivid, etc with FREE phone apps. My favorite ones are Snapseed and VSCO.

holidays family photos outfits

Since it was 85 degrees outside, I didn’t dare to ask Dmitri to wear his sweater for the car ride. We brought it along to slip on right before the shoot to make photos more “Winter-y”. Arizona living problems HAHA!

No photo shoot (at least in our family) goes without an incident. While I was adjusting Dmitri’s sweater, Maria fell on the rocks and went into a total meltdown.

holidays photos outfits

See Dmitri shielding his ears from loud screams? It was bad. Bright red face, tears rolling down… Not exactly what you want on your family Christmas pictures, right?

I caught the look on my husband’s face. We were both thinking the same thing. There it goes, our shoot was over before it even began.

Determined not to miss this rare opportunity, I rocked the little one till her cute little face returned to normal color. The day was saved.

Meanwhile the boys patiently waited. Just look at those studs.

So grateful my friend kept snapping pics to document everything HAHA! I almost love these action shots more than the actual photos.

Finally all was well and we quickly moved through a few poses.

If you are looking for family pose ideas, I found lots of inspiration HERE (scroll all the way down to view photos). In the end, the most important thing is being comfortable and in your own element. My favorite photographer always said, relax, smile and think of pizza 🙂

Not going to spoil my Christmas cards (I’ll post those pics later once the cards are sent out), but here is one of my favorite shots. I kind of love this one.

Normally, I have the hardest time coordinating family photo outfits. I refuse to buy new clothes just for the pictures, and our closet contents may mean the colors could be off. I’ve done that before when I looked at our family pics after a professional family shoot and thought to myself “what was I thinking?”.

Luckily lately I’ve been hugely obsessed with plaids. So this time I knew that I wanted to mix my favorite grey (which is finally “in”) with the black and red plaids for the photos.

Maria’s plaid dress tunic and leggings are Gap;  Dmitri’s sweater is also Gap. Husband’s top and jeans are Banana Republic. My dress and scarf are Gap. All scored during Black Friday sale! Both stores still have 40% off SALE going on as of right now.

If you are looking for more outfit ideasthis site offers a ton!

Best part about taking your own photos? –>> Not having to wait for weeks on a photographer to send them to you!

I already had them edited in Lightroom and put in the order for our Christmas cards through Shutterfly. This may be the first year when my cards will go out so early! Proud moment over here 🙂

How about you my friends? Are you doing Holiday cards this year?  Do you tend to work ahead or do it last minute?

Wishing you a great start to December!



holidays family photos outfit ideas

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