Making Important Photos a Priority at Christmas

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for photographs of grandparents and grandkids. Growing up there were a ton of photographs of me, my siblings and my parents, however there were very few of us with my grandparents. As I get older the memories I have of them are fading and I so desperately wish I had photographs of them hugging me, holding me, or just being with me! I’d also love to share those photographs with my kids so they could see a glimpse of their family history.

You can’t get the time back.

Right now we are fighting the battle of Alzheimer’s with my father. Every day his memory gets worse, and I can see the look in his eyes that he knows he is losing memories of the life he has lived and those he loves.

Last week he landed in the hospital from an unexpected infection and I was suddenly faced with the “holy cow” he may be gone tomorrow, not years from now, reality. Amongst all the crazy emotions this hospital visit brought, was the guilt I felt. I have been so busy with the unimportant pieces of life that I haven’t taken the time to focus on the important – spending time with my father and making sure his grandkids see him as often as possible and have photographs with him to keep those memories alive!

Nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow, and yet we get bogged down with such meaningless tasks that we don’t have time for what we should consider a priority!

While we should make an effort in our daily lives to spend time with those we love … work, distance and life can get in the way. This is why the holidays are the perfect chance to spend time with family and to photograph the people we love.

We make it a priority at the holidays to go places, make food, watch football, open gifts … why not add to this priority list to “take photographs with those we love, especially grandparents!”

I know what you are thinking … easier said then done.

Many times our elderly family members grumble at the idea of taking a photograph.

Many times during the holiday season we are just too busy to pick up our cameras (even our phone cameras) to take a photograph or two of our kids and their grandparents.

Many times Christmas comes and goes, and we have a million photographs of our kids opening gifts, playing with their toys, the decorations and “things” in our home, but the opportunity to photograph our parents with our kids slips on by.

This Christmas I urge you … take the time to photograph the important people in your life. If you will be with your parents, grandparents, or any family for the holidays make it a priority to photograph them with you and your kids.

Here are several tips to make this easier:

  1. Set up a location in your home or in the yard ahead of family arrival.
    You don’t wait until Christmas morning to plan your Christmas Menu, why would you wait until family arrives to plan where you will take photographs! Go ahead and scout out the perfect location in your yard that has some shade so nobody gets squinty eyes, or look at where inside your home there is plenty of natural light flooding in from windows and sliding glass doors. Once you find the spot, get it staged and ready to go. Will grandma need a hard chair to sit in? Will grandpa need a bench so the kids can sit around him? Think about special health considerations and plan accordingly. BONUS POINTS if you can get your family to coordinate their clothing!

    Grandparent Pictures
    Christmas 2014 – I made everyone bring black shirts to dinner!
  2. Tell the grandparents that these photographs are important to your kids.
    While a grandparent may be ok with saying NO to you, they have a harder time saying no to their grandkids. Tell them how important it is for your children to have some photographs with their grandparents! One time I even told my great aunt that the photograph was for a school project and Eryn needed the photographs in order to complete her grade. HA! Whatever works. Just get it done.

    grandparent photographs
    Christmas Morning 2016 right after opening gifts
  3. When planning the timeline of your holiday, put “Picture Time” ahead of eating a big meal!
    After stuffing their faces on yummy food, trust me, nobody will want to go take photographs. Once everyone arrives and has had a drink and an appetizer or snack, that is the perfect time. If Grandpa won’t put his martini down for the photograph, no worries … just think of the fun stories your kids will have about what Grandpa’s favorite drink was!
  4. Get perfection out of your mind.
    The enemy of getting something done is the idea of perfection. Just get it out of your mind right now. These photographs don’t need to be perfect, they just need to be done! If someone is crying (even if that someone is your husband), don’t throw up your hands and say “maybe next year”. Take the photograph, you never know if there will be a next year. Better to have a photograph with a baby crying or sleeping in their grandfather’s arms, then no photograph at all.

    Grandparent Pictures
    Christmas 2014 – Oh Eryn and Aubriella … silly cousins
  5. Photograph Smaller Groups
    Sometimes it can be overwhelming to elderly family members to be in large groups. Plus it can be hard to get everyone smiling. Don’t worry about that and get small groups. Have a grandparent with an individual grandchild, photograph the grandparent with their child and grandchild, mix things up! The collection of images will be the fun memory.

    grandparent photographs
    Me and my dad with James for his First Christmas
  6. Candids are important too!
    Be sure to capture some of the fun in-between moments. Grandparents playing with the kids, making a toast, laughing, etc. These photographs can be just as special and sometimes tell even better stories then the posed images.

    grandparent photographs
    Christmas jammies are so silly with Papa!

As I type this blog post, Christmas is 2 weeks away. I am asking, no I am begging, if you have family coming to visit for the holidays, add taking photographs to the TOP of your Christmas to-do list.

Thank you for reading about how to include your grandparents in your holiday images.  I’m excited for you to try these ideas, because every button push will be a lifelong treasure in the making.

While this is on your mind, you might consider whether it would also be a treasure to be IN the photo with everyone and to have a more professional portrait of the family. If you are thinking this way, shoot me an email! I would love to talk with you about creating a generational portrait of your family in the new year.

Hugs and Holiday Kisses (XOXO),

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Jeanine McLeod Professional PortraitJeanine McLeod is the owner of Cloud 9 Studios, a Florida based photography studio located just north of Tampa in Wesley Chapel. They specialize in family, children and baby photography and love helping families celebrate their love of family with fun, fresh and beautiful portraits.