Christmas Cocoa - styling a seasonal Photo shoot - Part 1
"Hey, I just got my new camera lens. Want to come here for a shoot? You can style it and use it on the blog!" The most magical words a new blogger can hear! My professional-family-photographer-turned-friend, Hannah, has been one of my greatest cheerleaders since this passion project began. When she asked if I wanted to come play with her camera, I simply couldn't refuse!
How should we style it?! We are smack in the middle of fall and creeping closer to the Christmas season every day. I couldn't decide which type of shoot I wanted to style - fall or Christmas - so I chose both! Hannah was game!
Somewhere in our discussion, hot cocoa was mentioned, and I knew instantly we were doing a cozy and delicious hot cocoa picnic complete with cookies and all of the marshmallows one can imagine. To create this look, I wanted to use lots of warm layers and textures. I chose a red and white quilt my mother-in-law made paired with a pin striped duvet cover. This one is similar. I also grabbed a few tasseled throws for warmth and overstuffed pillows in different textures to create a seating area. I had brought along a large antique laundry basket just to carry everything, but Hannah suggested we use it in the shoot. It created depth to the frame and gave us something to lean the pillows against.
A shoot like this is so fun because you are capturing the process of an activity - in this case - gorging on cookies and sipping chocolate goodness. You end up with gorgeous candids instead of staged photos. And a photo shoot revolving around sugar certainly helped my 4-year-old stay happy without a lot of prompts to smile!
From pouring the cocoa to dropping in marshmallows, Hannah captured all of the details that help tell the story and give a feeling of whimsy. The same can be captured in hunting for the perfect Christmas tree or decorating a gingerbread house together. These all elicit a feeling a family connection - perfect for the holidays!
For our wardrobe, I wanted our clothes to be seasonal without screaming, "look at me, I'm a Christmas sweater." These were all pieces we already had in our closets. The only thing I bought new was this ear warmer because hats and my giant head of hair don't get along. I decided to let my plaid scarf be the statement piece and styled around it with soft, chunky layers in colors that would compliment all of our styling props. Had I chosen cooler tones or even bright pops of color, there would have been too much fighting for attention in our photos.
If you are looking to set up a family photo session, try to think of something your family loves doing together - holiday activity or not. The same look and feeling can be created in any season with some careful thought about location and functional props.
I hope you find some special moments to capture with your family this year! Stay tuned for the fall photo shoot we styled! And if you're looking for more inspiration right now, check out this post on styling your family for a photo shoot. As always, I hope you share my ideas with others and I would love if you shared yours with me!
Photo Credit - Hannah Jorich