Christmas is a month and a half away. I have a little bit of shopping done. I hate shopping, so I order most of the gifts online. Amazon is my favorite store this time of year.
It's a tough time of year. On top of Christmas, my oldest son's birthday is early November, and my youngest son's birthday is early December.
With both of their birthdays around Christmas, I have an annual photo taken of them and make it into Christmas cards. A few times I've taken the photo myself, and a few times I've taken them to Olan Mills to get their pictures taken. I get the lowest priced package that contains the cd with the photo's from the session. It usually costs around $100, which is kind of expensive. Olan Mills does a nice job though. I use a picture I have taken, or from the cd, and have Walmart print up the Christmas cards. The Christmas cards themselves are very inexpensive.
When my oldest son was a year old, I took him to Walmart's photography studio. It wasn't a good experience. The photographer never showed up. They finally sent a backup photographer. It was a long wait, but we got the package for free. When he was two, the photographer just couldn't get a good shot of him. I ended up taking the picture myself. When he was three, I took the picture of him and his newborn brother myself. When he was four, I took the boys to Olan Mills. The photographer was great, and the pictures came out great; much better than Walmart. I'll never have pictures taken at Walmart again. When he was five, I took the photos myself again. Last year, when he was six, we went back to Olan Mills. This year I'm debating if I want to go back to Olan Mills, or take the pictures myself.
Taking the pictures myself is much less expensive. The pictures from the years I took the photos myself came out really cute too. Getting the right shot was very difficult though. They both have a certain smile I look for that is natural and reaches from their mouths to their eyes. It's not a forced say cheese smile like you sometimes see.
I followed my son around with a camera for about two weeks. Then I examined every shot and cropped the ones I liked using my photo editing software. The shot I ended up using was pure luck. At two, he was running around full of energy as I was snapping away. At one point I handed him a snowman decoration, and just as he was running towards me, I snapped the picture. Once I cropped it with my photo editing software the picture was perfect. I just happened to snap the picture at the right second to get the right smile I was looking for.
The year when he was three and I took the picture, I had him sit on the couch holding his newborn brother. Getting the right picture of two little ones is even harder. The oldest kept looking at the tv or tipping his head sideways. The newborn either wasn't looking at me or had his eyes closed. On top of that I was trying to get that certain natural, happy smile from the oldest. I just kept snapping away and once I cropped the photos with my photo editing software, I realized I had gotten the perfect shot. My oldest had his head tipped sideways, but he had the smile I was looking for and his newborn brother had his eyes closed, so it looked like he was sleeping. It was so cute! I got lots of complements on that photo.
With Christmas almost upon us, I will have to finalize my decision to get pictures taken at Olan Mills, or do them myself, very soon.