Photo-centric gifts are a great way to spread the love of your beautiful family with those you love. I don’t know many people who dislike personalized gifts. Do you?

Here are my favorite photo gifts sure to please everyone on your holiday list this year:

  1. Calendars

    I’ve talked about these before, but it simply makes sense. That’s why it’s listed first. What other gift can showcase all the beautiful family photos you’ve taken throughout the year, and still allows you to switch it up each month?
    Little boy and girl on city steps for photo-centric gifts

  2. Ornaments

    For those looking for holiday mementos that are taken out of their special boxes each year, this is the one for you. Family members (like Grandma and Grandpa), close family friends, or even your significant other will love getting a personalized photo ornament. Wouldn’t you?

  3. Canvas Photos

    Simple? Perhaps. But certainly a classic. If you’re thinking about how to gift a favorite family photo, but a frame just doesn’t cut it, canvas prints can take things up a notch. There are plenty of sizes to choose from, and wonderful vendors too.
    Family of four sitting on a hillside for photo-centric gifts

  4. Mugs 

    Let’s face it, guys can be hard to buy for. But what dad or grandpa doesn’t drink their morning coffee from a mug? Spread a little bit of family love by getting them a personalized photo mug this year. You never know, they might just thank you for it. 😉

  5. Phone Cases

    Teenagers, they can almost be as hard to buy for as men. But do they ever put their phones down? Not likely. Give them a photo case (stylish, of course), to match their latest phone. This is also a great one for Moms. (Eh-hem, all you dads out there. HA!)
    Little girl cuddles with blanket for photo-centric gifts

  6. Puzzles 

    Do your kids need a little mystery? Little kids and older ones alike will love getting a special family photo puzzle to put together.

  7. Woven Photo Blankets

    Have a kid away at college who isn’t able to make it home for the holidays? Or perhaps grandma and grandma live in another state (or country!) Give them a special family cuddle with a woven photo blanket.
    Family of four surrounded by greenery for photo-centric gifts

  8. Throw Pillows

    For those who feel blankets are a bit much, but would love a few accent pillows, I say why not? The printing for both blankets and pillows have come a long way over the years. Brighten up Grandma’s couch (or your own) with these great gifts.

  9. Candles 

    Want a special way to illuminate your family photos? Try a printed glass candle holder. Then, every time you light the candle, all those beautiful smiling faces will be even brighter.

Couple embracing outside for photo-centric gifts


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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It’s been a little while since I last got together to photograph the adorable Poole twins, Mea and Parish. Since they were born, we’ve been getting together every other year to document the way they’ve changed and grown.

How We Met

The first time I photographed this photogenic duo, they were brand new and I fell completely in love. They were the first set of newborn twins I had the privilege of photographing. So not only are they a joy to work with, they’re a special memory of mine! When we get together, I’m always amazed at how much they’ve changed. As far as twins go, they couldn’t look more different–but you can always see just how much they love each other.

The Session

This year, we got together at my home where we took photos in my yard, on the porch, and in the alley. The twins had been sick on the original day we planned for the shoot. So we rescheduled for a weekday afterschool. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and the kids were both in great spirits. I had a wonderful time showing them all my new “secret” photography spots, which were different than the last time we got together. It was funny, because though I know the public alleyway looks a bit unkempt, it always performs well in photos. Reassured mom that she’d be pleasantly surprised with how they turned out, and I wasn’t wrong! When she saw the images, she said, “I LOVE them. Wow –you’re not kidding. Your alley photographs very well.” That it certainly does. 😉

The Selection

The photos the family selected are going to be used as holiday gifts and cards, going out to friends and family this year.

 

Young boy, leaning against a porch railing for Secret Photography Spots A young girl stands by a brick wall in Washington DC for Secret Photography Spots Fraternal twins stand in an alleyway for Secret Photography Spots Fraternal twins stand in an alleyway for Secret Photography Spots

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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The holiday season is a magical time for everyone. Finding the best ways to practice holiday season photography can be a little less so. Especially when you want to participate in the festivities, and be present for your family and friends. Trying to fumble through settings blindly or think of clever ways to engage everyone for a quick pic is the last thing you want to do. Why not try going in prepared?

Here are 8 tips to try out for stellar holiday season photography this year:

  1. Candid Holiday Moments

    The holiday season brings out some of the best candid moments of the year. To get your creative juices flowing in the right direction, here are some of my favorites:

    • Christmas Tree Lot. Or getting the tree ready, if you don’t have a living tree. There is so much joy and wonderment hidden in the faces of children during this event. Not to mention, nostalgia for those of us who’ve been around for a few of these.
    • Opening Gifts. Wrapping paper. Footie pajamas. Bed-head hair. What’s not to love?
    • Getting Santa’s Cookies Ready. Or lighting the menorah with your kids. Pick a holiday tradition your family celebrates to capture for years of memories. Even if you don’t do it every single year, you’ll always have a few good ones to reminisce on later.
    • Playing in the Snow. Snow doesn’t last long in DC, so sneaking out and getting great pics of your family having fun in it is something to cherish.
      winter photos
  2. Shoot a Story

    Instagram and SnapChat are definitely on to something. Think outside a single shot. Sometimes, telling a story with your photos can be just the thing to take your holiday shots to the next level.

  3. Capture Christmas Lights

    Much like snapping great shots of fireworks, getting the right balance for your holiday lights is key. Here are some important setting and tips to consider when shooting Christmas lights this season:

    • Shutter Speed – To capture great images of holiday lights, often a slower shutter speed is necessary. Somewhere between 1 to 2 seconds is perfect. Avoid blurring due to camera shake by carrying along a tripod to do the heavy lifting.
    • Aperture – To create beautiful bokeh images with holiday lights, drop your aperture speeds down. If you can, try to stay at f2.8 or lower for maximum effect. If you’re looking for more twinkle in your lights, use smaller apertures and long exposures to diffract the light and create starbursts.
    • ISO – With holiday lights, a good rule of thumb is to decrease your ISO and work with a lower setting to start. If the exposure isn’t quite where you need it to be, up it incrementally until you find your sweet spot.
    • White Balance – If you have a camera with automatic white balance, shut it off so you’re not toning down the rich, beautiful colors of the holiday lights.
    • Consider Timing – If taking outdoor light photos is a goal of yours, the best exposures generally happen right at the twilight hour. Not only will you get the beautiful lights, but it will also allow you to maintain some details in the shadows.
    • Ditch the Flash – There’s a time and a place for your flash, but it’s not while taking pictures of holiday lights. Shut it off and trust your settings.

      Holiday Season Photography - christmas lights

      ©Shaun Fisher with Creative Commons

  4. Fill Your Frame

    All too often, amateur photographers forget they can fill the frame with the important details. Taking a macro approach can drop out extraneous details unnecessary to the story of the image. Move in close and get the details that really count.

  5. Use Natural Light When Possible

    If you really want to capture the mood of the moment, foregoing the flash for a natural scene can do just that. Allowing the ambient light from the tree, or a fireplace to flood the scene is a beautiful way to take a warm, natural holiday photo.

  6. Holiday Props (are cute)

    Not all of your holiday photos have to be candid, in the moment fun. Some can be all about the gorgeous décor and holiday props you’ve decorated with. Pick a single object for the focal point and test out your canvas with creative macro shots.
    Little baby sitting next to Christmas Tree for Photography Myths

  7. The Festive Stage

    Go full spectrum with your setting, too. Capture your living room decorations, table settings, everything. Be sure to get those festive lights both inside and out.

  8. Have Fun

    Whatever the case might be, remember to have fun. Both planned and staged. If your family loves silly photos for holidays, try a photo booth decked out with a simple holiday backdrop and take turns getting photos taken. Remember, regardless of the fun images you work towards, don’t get too hung up on the perfect shot. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t. The important thing is being there to enjoy the moment however it unfolds.

BONUS TIP: Don’t forget to charge your batteries the night before! You’d be surprised how often the best laid plans go to waste because you can’t even get the camera turned on. 😉

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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Holiday season is officially upon us. This means with all the hustle and bustle between shops, to-do lists, decorating, and normal everyday stuff—holiday cards need to go out. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices out there. Where do you start? How do you know which printers are good? Or if they’ll deliver in a timely fashion? Not to mention the thousands of choices in layout and design. During a time when there’s already enough to be thinking about, choosing to place your holiday card order through your family photographer makes sense. Not only do they already have the beautiful digital files of the photos you wish to use—but they have work closely with printers who do the job right.

I always recommend to my clients to lean on me in helping them choose their holiday cards. It’s not just about simplicity, though that’s a good reason. Here are four more reasons your family photographer will deliver your best holiday cards ever.

Let’s take a look:

  1. Professional Recommendations

    When I offer holiday card recommendations for my client, I usually review all their images, and take into account their personal aesthetics. Which is something I learned about through the process of working together. I’ll often put together an idea for them in a viewing session with a small number of amazing layouts I know they’ll love.

    Handsomely dressed family of 5 for What Not to Wear article

  2. Quality Control

    As a photographer, I take the printing and design of the photos I take seriously. When I’m in charge of the holiday card order, I can ensure the image as printed, design, and paper quality are topnotch. I work closely with my vendors, so I trust their services and if I have a problem, I can quickly and easily have it resolved. This is very important when time is ticking down.

    Family of five together to Order Holiday Cards

  3. Hassle Avoided

    This might seem obvious, but adding one more thing to your holiday list can be stressful. Add on top when things go wrong—print quality is sub par, or other issues with the card arise. By utilizing your family photographer as your ordering resource, you can dodge a bullet. Why not lay everything in their capable hands?

    Family of five together to order holiday cards

  4. Super-Fast

    Photographers know how which designs work best. Not only can I make the choices for your holiday card a breeze, but the whole process from start to finish! I’ll often put together an idea for them at the viewing session and most of the time, my clients go with my suggestions. Once the order is placed with me, I have a super-fast turnaround: Within 2 days I can have their cards ready, Yes, that’s printed AND delivered!

    Family of five together to order holiday cards
    As a family photographer, I can personally tell you we always have your family’s best interest in mind. By going through your family photographer to order your holiday cards, you won’t be disappointed. We take your beautiful family’s images personally. We always want to make sure your cards look their very best.

Happy Holidays from Julie Kubal Photography!

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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For the past five years, I’ve had the incredible gift of being a part of family tradition photos for the Wick family.

How We Met

We first started getting together when their daughter, Sophia, turned one. Then again two years later when their second daughter, Aurelia, turned one. Since then, we’ve been getting together every year for their holiday sessions. Through the years, it’s been so much fun witnessing this family grow. I love seeing them year after year, watching the girls grow up and blossom. It’s been such fun continuing to develop our friendship as well.

The Session

For our 2016 holiday photos session, we met at my home. Photos were taken in the alley behind my house and along the fence line of the yard. Once again, I think they turned out absolutely adorable. Both of the girls are getting so big, and you can tell how much they adore each other. (I love the photo of the two of them hugging in alley with all of the greenery surrounding them!)

The Selection

Kim and Dan will be using the photos we took from this session as gift prints and holiday cards. I’m so honored the Wick family has continued this tradition with me, entrusting me to capture their family memories.

Little girl in dad's arms for family tradition photos

Young girl in pink stands next to fence for yearly tradition photos Two young sisters hug each other for family tradition photos Family of four for yearly tradition photos

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

Tags: , ,

It sounds obvious, but Thanksgiving really is one of the best times for family photo opportunities. With all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the event itself, it may seem like it’s more of a hassle than it’s worth. I promise you, it’s not. Taking photos every year at Thanksgiving will give you and your family something to look back on year after year. One day, all those Thanksgiving snapshots may become some of the most cherished pieces of your photo history.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are a few of the biggest reasons not to overlook those Thanksgiving family photo ops:

  1. Celebrating the Generations

    Unfortunately, we all have a limited amount of time together. Because of this, Thanksgiving is one of the best times to capture special moments with aging grandparents, parents, and children. Think about it. When else are you going to have all of your family members under one roof? Even if you’re not one for posed portraits, there are plenty of candid photo ops available for the taking.

    Large group photo for flattering portrait poses

  2. Honoring Traditions

    Regardless of how your family celebrates Thanksgiving—documenting your traditions is a great way to immortalize them. From the start of the preparations, to laying the table, or carving turkey, capture all the meal prep. If your family plays football after the meal, get that on film, too. What about sitting down to watch the Macy’s parade? Whatever it might be, snap a few shots and put them in your photo album to reminisce on later.

    Little girl sitting outside next to pumpkins for Thanksgiving Family Photo

  3. Documenting Meals

    Taking pictures of your food isn’t just for Instagram! Shocking, right? Snapping pics of your yearly Thanksgiving dinners can bring back memories of the particular year’s event. It can even be a great reminder of some of the dishes you don’t want to forget to make again the following year. Kids love looking back at the photos and pointing to the dishes they loved the best. If you serve unusual dishes, or something nontraditional–it’s a great way to spread the love and share the memories.

    Meal for Thanksgiving Family Photo

  4. The Set Scene

    Does your family break out the fancy plates for Thanksgiving supper? Decorate the place up right? Trust me, you’ll want to look back at the way things looked in years gone by. Remembering what the house looked like each year, or the way your meal was set out, will always be a fond memory.

    custom family photos by Julie Kubal

  5. Embracing the Season

    Capturing candid shots of your family outside with whatever the season brings – leaves, snow, or sunshiney goodness is a wonderful way to celebrate the changing weather.

brother and sister fraternal twins in Rock Creek Park in Washington DC by Julie Kubal


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone. It seems like only yesterday I was photographing little Reed Bonaviri for his newborn session, and now we’re celebrating his first birthday! This latest session was the final of three in their First Year Package, capping off the series with pictures just before his birthday this past September.

I can’t believe how much Reed has changed since our last session in late April. He’s gone from being an adorable little baby, just beginning to crawl—into a true little man. Toddlerhood has struck, and there’s no turning back now. 😉

The Session

We met at McCrillis Garden this time, which is a small public garden in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Bethesda. It was a terrific location to shoot in for a number of reasons. Not only were there beautiful backdrops, but the garden itself was nice and quiet. We only saw one other person the entire time we were there.

Because we were working around Reed’s naptime, we had a midday shoot. It’s not the ideal time to do an outdoor photo session due to the angle of the sun at that time of day. It does take some experience learning how to work in this type of light conditions. However, I’d much rather work in less than ideal light with a happy kid, than have an exhausted child melting down in beautiful light. And in my line of photography, I work with tons of kids this age, so being flexible with the time goes with the territory.

Caroline had one formal outfit put together for Reed, which she joked was essential to show off his Southern roots (Caroline is from South Carolina, after all). And how adorable his outfits both are!

The Selection

Now that our three sessions are complete, it’s finally time to put together a beautiful first year album for the family. It’ll be a challenge to narrow down the number of images from the three sessions, because there are so many lovely photos. What does make the cut will definitely be the cream of the crop and a nice variety showcasing how much this little guy has grown and developed.

Little boy with in dad's arms for First Year Album Little boy walking with Mom for First Year Album Little boy sitting with Mom for First Year Album Family of three standing together for First Year Album Little boy walking down walkway for First Year Album

 

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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Family photos are precious memories of where you and your family are at right now. But how do you use family photos in new and unique ways? Turning them into the yearly holiday card seems to be the most common. However, finding other uses to leverage your investment can sometimes be a challenge. Rest assured, there are some really great ones out there! Let’s take a look at five of my favorites:

  1. Ornaments

    We are quickly approaching the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle on the same old holiday card approach for your family photos. Instead, why not utilize those wonderful images as beautiful holiday ornaments? Dazzle your tree with one each year for a nostalgic tradition as you take each one from the box. Don’t forget to make extras! Grandmas and Grandpas love these as gifts, too!

    Family of four together to use family photos

  2. Garland

    Pictures make great garlands for decorating your home or office. Use prints of your favorite family photos to string them together. If you do this tradition every year by placing them in chronological order, you’ll have a special timelapse of your family as you grow together.

    Family of four together to use family photos

  3. Digital Frames

    Since we’re in the digital age, this one is for those of you who love to embrace it. I always encourage my clients to choose their favorite family photos to have them on display in their home. But what about the ones that didn’t make the cut? Using digital frames around the home to highlight all the spectacular photos from your session can be a great way to view every last one. This works especially well when you have a stellar session with so many wonderful photos that it’s hard to choose which is the best!

    Family of four together to use family photos

  4. Photo Books

    With Apple Photos or Google Photos, it’s easy to create a beautiful, memory piece with your photos each year. While traditional photo albums are great too, Apple and Google take it up a notch with customizeable backgrounds and pages.

    Apple Photos Keepsake Books to use family photos

    Photo © Apple, Inc.

  5. Calendars

    Whether for your home or office, utilizing your family photos in a beautiful calendar is a fantastic way to put these images to use. What a fun way to cherish your photos in celebration of each new month. Both Apple and Google offer some great templates to try out.

    Apple Photos Calendars to use family photos

    Photo © Apple, Inc.

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

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Even the best family photographers need to get their pictures taken once in a while.

How We Met

This August, I had the privilege of photographing Kara Gotsch, Darren Cambridge, and their sons, Oliver and Max. I’ve known the Gotsch-Cambridge family for about four years. Our sons go to the same school, and Kara was even the co-chair of the PTA the year before I was. I’ve gotten to know them both over the years through all the various school events. This year, they happened to place the winning bid for a family session at the school auction.

Darren is an avid and talented amateur photographer. Over the years, he’s done a wonderful job documenting his family. However, part of the problem with being the family photographer when you’re the parent is not getting in the shots. Darren rarely has the opportunity to appear in the photos alongside his family. Both Kara and Darren were really keen on getting a family photo with all four of them for a change.

The Session

For our session, we headed out to their neighborhood of Eckington, and around McKinley Tech High School. I enjoyed strolling around the neighborhood with them. Darren’s recommendation of heading to the high school was perfect for the morning light. There was some nice architecture and plenty of open shade. This was particularly good since our session was in the height of the hottest and most humid part of summer. Luckily, the temps stayed bearable throughout our morning shoot.

Just like my own son, the two Cambridge boys are very active. Photographing busy boys generally comes down to one thing: distraction. I had to keep them busy and moving in order to get the shots I wanted. By keeping their minds working on other things, I was able to get them to engage naturally with their parents. I think all of the shots turned out so well!

The Selection

The family chose to have a number of prints made for both their home, and Kara’s new office.

Dad with son for photographing busy boys Mom and two sons sitting on a step for photographing busy boys Family of four together on steps for photographing busy boys Brothers sit together on steps for photographing busy boys Dad sitting on steps with two sons for photographing busy boys

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!

Tags: , , , ,

Halloween pictures are special. They don’t just capture your kids celebrating a favorite day of the year. They’re also a great way to utilize family photography as a way to preserve memories and illustrate your little one’s growth over time. Some of my favorite opportunities for Halloween pictures come from unexpected moments of this favorite holiday. These shots add a unique twist to your standby photos.

Read on for my list of the must have Halloween pictures.

The preparation.

Half the fun of Halloween is the process of picking out a costume, or decorating the house. If you buy your costumes from a store, order them online, or create them yourself, make sure to document how this process looks in your household. Get shots of your little one trying on wigs at the store, ripping into the package for the first time, or watching the sewing machine in awe can all capture the excitement building. As you’re getting the house ready, capture them opening the bins of decorations, or as they place them about the house.

Little boy dressed like Spiderman for Halloween Pictures

Getting ready.

Whether you’re planning a dress rehearsal or prepping on the big night, the process of getting made up is one you can’t miss. Consider taking before and after shots (against a simple backdrop for a clean comparison), or progress photos. Catch them applying hair gel, buckling shoes, or twisting into a set of wings can be winning candid moments.

Little boy dressed like Spiderman for Halloween Pictures

The perfect backdrop.

A unique environment is the easiest way to take your Halloween pictures to the next level. Think of an appropriate settling for your kid’s character to shine. It can be as simple as your Little Red Riding Hood among some trees, your surfer dude on the beach. Or even a cowboy next to a barrel of hay. Immersing your kid in his or her character’s surroundings will not only be the highlight of Halloween, but bring a different dynamic to your photos.

Little boy dressed like Spiderman for Halloween Pictures

Action shots.

Get your kiddo into character by requesting an impression of whatever they’re dressed up as. Ask your ballerina to twirl, your Harry Potter to cast a spell, or your soccer player to score a goal.

Little boy dressed like Spiderman for Halloween Pictures

Don’t forget the details.

Focus on drawing attention to your kid’s favorite piece of his or her costume. Get up close for a shot of your zombie’s intricate makeup or your Mermaid’s sparkly fins.

Little boy dressed like Spiderman for Halloween Pictures

The retreat.

Instead of only capturing your kids backs as they race up your neighbor’s porch, wait until they have received their treats and are on their way back down. This way, you can grab their elated “I just got candy” expression as they bounce back towards you.

 

What are your favorite Halloween picture moments? Tell me in the comments section below!

 


Julie Kubal family portraits Washington D.C.

About the Author:

Julie Kubal is a child and family portrait artist and photographer serving Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. She is passionate about creating warm and meaningful artwork through modern portraits and lifestyle photography at a location of your choice!


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