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Tips for getting the whole family ready for holiday photo shoots

Joseph, Gianna and Alyssa Walsh, of West Islip,

Joseph, Gianna and Alyssa Walsh, of West Islip, pose with Santa in the North Pole. Credit: Lasting Impressions

Sometimes, getting everyone to smile, look at the camera without blinking and not ruin the family portrait can seem impossible.

But to get as much control over the situation, we asked a few pros for their advice on how to get the best holiday portrait this season.

1. Consider the background. What you should wear depends on the background, says Jaclyn Noelle, of Jaclyn Noelle Photography of Northport, who does both studio and location shoots. For studio shots, Noelle sends photos of her three different holiday sets to clients to help them choose outfits that will look best. Noelle asks families to send her a photo beforehand, so she can keep on-theme. "This way I can know to match the background. If I need to add something or take away something in a set, I could change that."

2. Pick a pallet, not a color. It's recommended that families stick to one unifying theme in their wardrobe. Jennifer Mercurio, owner of Lasting Impressions in Bay Shore, recommends the family think about a color palette. "The clothes are important, but they should not take over the portrait: the people should," she says. "We don’t really recommend that people have to wear clothes that are matching in one exact color, but rather fall into the palette that naturally matches the environment of their portraits."

3. Location matters. For studio shots, Mercurio suggests sticking with classic holiday colors: black, white, red, green, navy and gray. For outdoor shoots, people should consider more muted, natural tones, she says. For a very rustic outdoor setting, Noelle suggests plaids.

4. Bring the four-legged family members. Noelle, whose photo sessions take between 40 and 90 minutes, allows families to include pets in her studio portraits, while Mercurio will only include four-legged family members in outdoor sessions. "Sometimes it could be chaos, but it could make for really cute pictures and funny ones," says Noelle. To wrangle pets, she keeps treats on hand.

5. Keep the kids' schedules in mind. Getting kids to enjoy family photos can be a challenge. It takes "lots of tickles," Noelle says. Kids should be well fed before they come into the studio, advises Noelle. "Sometimes kids could get hangry," she says.

Mercurio advises parents to schedule the shoot for a time that’s best suited for their kids, and avoid, at all costs, naptime and mealtime.

6. Set out your expectations. Parents should also prep kids about what's to come during the shoot, including posing and sitting still for 30- to 60-minutes. "We also have a conversation with the parents about expectations, too," Mercurio says. "Sometimes a pre-visit to the studio is quite helpful."

7. Book ahead. Many people start booking their holiday photos as early as the end of summer, says Noelle, who can accommodate procrastinators if she has any last minute cancellations. "I find a lot of photographers are booked for the holidays by now."

In general, Mercurio recommends people do a shoot no later than the first week in December. They can anticipate receiving their holiday photos about a week later.

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