Ok, so Christmas is right around the corner and you have a baby at home and want to take a cute holiday photo but you are not too sure where to start.
For my son's first Christmas, I wanted to do something personal yet unique. I had just done a newborn session and the parents wanted one of the classic ring shots...and that got me thinking. At first I was going to try tying our rings to ribbon and hang them from the tree, but for the life of me, I could not get my little baby in a pose that looked nice with that idea. Then I noticed my husband's and mine "First Christmas" ornament on the tree: it is metal (safe for a baby that mouths everything) and has our names and year of wedding engraved on it - a perfect, simple prop.
My set up:
1. Lighting: All natural. I positioned the couch next to a sliding door (any large window will work) so that when sitting on the couch, the main light source would be from the side. And I placed him just where the shadow started, so not in direct light (you can actually see where the full sun light line is just above his shoulder). I also had two small windows behind me to light his face and give catch lights in his eyes. Don't have those second windows behind you? That is fine, just use some sort of reflector (an actual reflector, or a car screen window shade or a pizza box covered in tin foil) and have someone hold it so that you see light in the eyes.
2. Back drop: I simply draped a textured white blanket over the couch and put him in a sitting position. Make sure the blanket is pulled as tight as possible, this will avoid visible wrinkles and patches of shadows.
3. Clothing: Anything festive. I used a Christmas onesie.
4. Equipment: One of the things I love about this photo is it was taken with a T3i and a kit lens, proving you can get good images without professional equipment. Granted, if you can afford a full frame sensor camera and Canon L lenses, buy them, they will not disappoint!
5. Camera Settings: ISO 200, f/5, 1/60sec
This was taken in manual mode and I used spot metering on his skin to set the exposure. Looking at the settings now, I think I should have lowered the F/stop and increased the speed and possibly the ISO - just to ensure there was no camera shake. When hand holding a camera, I always try to be at or above 1/200 sec to ensure there is no camera shake.
6. DIY Camera Setting Recommendations - For anyone who does not understand #5, either set your camera to portrait mode (usually a picture of a head) or set it to Aperture Priority and shoot with f/4.5 or f/5.
Good luck and Merry Christmas!