I’m going to admit right away that I am hopeless at sending thank you cards. It’s not that I don’t feel grateful it’s just several months before I remember I should be doing it. I’m keen that my children grow up with different priorities and making thank you cards fun is the first step in them wanting to write them.
Rather than long letters we have set up a fun photo shoot backdrop for the children to model their goodies. We then print greeting cards or postcards with Moo (who let you use as many pictures as you have cards – perfect) and the children can add their personal thanks by hand.
Here are my top tips for making a photo shoot fun:
- Create a fun backdrop on a wall which gets good light in your home. I used a light curtain but you could use streamers, balloons or the classic of your Christmas tree to provide a colourful background.
- Get set up the night before you want to do the shoot. You don’t want to miss the best light or the window of opportunity in children’s moods by having to set up there and then.
- Ask your children for their ideas – after all, they are the ones saying thank you so they will likely want some creative input.
- Have all of the gifts to hand so you can change props quickly.
- Pick a time when the kids are well fed and have lots of energy – it will all go wrong quickly if they are in need of a nap!
- Be prepared to do it in more than one session.
- Start off by capturing a general shot of them in the scene; that way, if you run out of time/steam/patience you already have a great thank you card to send. This works well for younger children who might not want to model every gift they received.
Setting up your camera:
- Use a tripod – it will help you keep the frame consistent and ensure camera shake doesn’t ruin a good shot.
- If you have a remote these can be very handy allowing you to shoot from the other side of the camera.
- Choose a wide-angle lens or focal length to capture the whole scene.
- Give yourself plenty of space to step back from the scene to the optimum distance for your focal length.
- Practice the shot making sure your aperture is narrow enough to keep all the elements you want in focus and that it isn’t too crowded.
- Once you are happy with the set up use masking tape to mark the spot on the floor where the children should stand. Distance between them and the background for blur (bokeh) and closer to the background to have it in focus.
- Lighting: I have used a flash and reflector in these pictures as our house is too dark in Winter to use natural light. If you have the same issue, bounce the flash off the ceiling to soften the light in your scene.
- Keep your shutter speed fast: in the darker months you may find yourself leaning toward slower shutter speeds but you run the risk of blur from movement and losing the shot. Keep the shutter at about 1/100s and bump the ISO a little; grain is preferable to blur when those are your only choices.
- Keep checking your pictures (by downloading or zooming in on the LCD screen) to make sure they are in focus in the right places.
How ever you create your photo shoot, above all, have fun and make it your own!