Making the Holidays Merry and Bright – DIY Baby’s First Christmas Photo Shoot

Now that January is coming to a close and we finally packed away the last of our holiday decorations, I began reminiscing on the highlights of this past holiday season.  Without a doubt, the most memorable experience was watching Alister as he experienced the whole season for the first time.  From the Christmas tree to lighting the menorah to the countless hours watching me bake in the kitchen.  And of course there was the regular stream of presents that continued to appear throughout the entire month of December.  Santa (Alister’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents’ friends) treated this first-timer quite well this season.  Of course, when it comes to Alister, the wrapping paper provided enough joy let alone what the box contained!  Each present was truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Okay, so rather than spend the entire post discussing every “first” Alister experienced last month (that’s what his untouched baby book is for), I will focus on one of the more enjoyable times I had with him.   Inspired by a number of pins on Pinterest, I staged an amateur photo shoot for Alister’s first Christmas card. (Can you call it a photo shoot if it lasts 10 minutes?)  Well, we were so pleased with the results, particularly since I have no photography skills, I wanted to share a quick “how-to” for creating a similar scene with items you have around the house.

Step 1Find the location.  Given that it is winter and we have very little direct sunlight facing our home, we opted for the room that received some sunlight in the morning.

Step 2 – Set the stage.  We already had a white blanket on the bed in the room, so that helped set the scene.  To make it feel wintry, we draped white towels over the dark wood headboard of the bed and wrapped a couple of strings of white Christmas lights around the headboard.  Surprisingly, everything stayed put with little effort and no tape.  We placed Alister clad only in a diaper and polar bear hat on the blanket.  To provide him some warmth on a chilly December morning, as well as some decency, we draped one of his white baby blankets over his lap.

Set the stage and distract the baby

Step 3 – Distract the subject.  The oversized hat, a gift from his Aunt Rachel and Uncle Adam, was a perfect distraction for the photo shoot.

A hat makes a great distraction

Step 4 – Who turned out the lights?  Doh.  Too much distraction.  It was time to save the baby from the dark and move onto the next step.Alister 0, Hat 1

Step 5 – Point and shoot.  After several minutes of trying to compete with the hat for Alister’s attention, he looked directly at me.  When that happens, do not hesitate.  Take. The. Photo.  Then, trick yourself into thinking you will take another round of  photos in the future when baby is in a better of mood.  Knowing deep down inside that day will never come.

Take the shot!

Step 6 – Get your Picasa on.  Time to make that amateur photo look less amateur-ish.  I do not claim to know what I’m talking about when it comes to photography, but I know that a little click of a button in Picasa took my photo from looking decent to another level.  Using the Cross Process function under the green tab in Picasa (see the lower left corner option?), provided a cross processed finish by softening the photo yet brightening the lights.  It is probably not the ideal effect I would have selected for a regular, framed photo, but it was perfect for the Christmas card feel I was trying to achieve.  Also, this feature helped create artificial lighting where I needed it.

With a little help from Picasa

Step 7 – Show off.  Once the photo shoot and touch-up are complete, I added a holiday phrase to the photo.  Then, the only thing left to do was find a photo card company, which seem to be everywhere these days, and order dozens upon dozens to share with family and friends.

Merry and Bright!

Here’s a look at the finished product!

Merry and Bright!

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