Christmas and the holiday season is a time to slow down and spend quality time with loved ones. It's a time to make memories, enjoy old traditions and make news ones. Christmas is an especially magical time for children. Many of our most prized childhood memories take place around the holidays.
Every Christmas (and everyday for that matter), my goal is to move past taking the standard everyone-look-at-the-camera-and-smile pictures. I am a family and child storytelling photographer, after all. If you know me and my work, you know as a family photojournalist and documentary photographer I always strive to take real photographs that tell the story in front of me and document the genuine emotion and interactions taking place.
This is especially true at Christmas. I take many pictures on Christmas morning as we open our presents as well as during dinner and at all of our get-togethers. Over the years, I have found there's a delicate balance though involved in taking photos during these activities. These moments are so important to our family and I want to tell their story in my photographs, but I don't want to experience these moments just as a photographer. I also want to really be there.
Those moments are too special to be experienced entirely with my camera pressed up to my face. I get plenty of photos to tell the story and then I put my camera down, making a point to not obsess over documenting every little detail. That allows me to really be a apart of unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, dinner that night, and I really spend time with loved ones during all of our get-togethers.
With that said, there is a Christmas tradition that I have found to be the perfect activity to be present for and to have fun thoroughly photographing. This activity is decorating gingerbread houses. It's calm, quiet, and without chaos. There's plenty of time to photograph creatively and thoroughly while also participating and being a part of the fun.
Each year, my parents bake the houses, make the icing, and shop for fun candies. They've been doing this with their grandchildren for the past 15+ years. It's a beloved family tradition, one I just know my kids will always treasure doing with their grandparents.
It's my very favorite Christmas tradition to photograph. So much so I've started photographing other sentimental families and their very own gingerbread house decorating tradition. This particular shoot is one of my most favorite extended family photo sessions to date.