When I first started my photography business, I felt as if I needed a prop, or ten, in every session I booked. I went as far as to show up at my outdoor sessions with a wagon full of “stuff” that I felt enhanced the shoot and my indoor studio sessions involved hours of set up and tear down. I consistently found myself exhausted by all of it. It wasn’t about the subject, it was more about what the subject was holding. As the years went by, I began to strip down my sessions and simplify every aspect of them. From the shoot itself to the post-processing workflow. I consistently went back to, what I truly feel, is the heart of photography. It isn’t fancy props, or elaborate set-ups. It’s the subject. Their eyes. Their energy. Their perfect imperfections. I transitioned all of my studio work to be “prop free” and I no longer spent time and money shopping for any additional items to place in the scene. Now, in my 9th year in business, I am a “prop free” photographer and I’m widely known for my minimalistic style.
When it comes to Holiday Sessions, I’m well aware that my simplicity isn’t for everyone. I’ve had clients choose not to book with me because they are specifically looking for a prop heavy session. To be honest, I’m perfectly ok with that. Maybe you’re reading this and discovering that you too would like to simplify your sessions. You’re ready to downsize the props and extra “stuff” and focus more on the subject. Perhaps the props serve as a crutch for you and the idea of doing a session with literally nothing but the subject terrifies you. Not too worry. Here are some examples of how I have taken 6 simple, elegant backdrops and created Holiday “art” that can be enjoyed all year round. Whether your clients celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or perhaps something else, offering a different type of Holiday Session is completely achievable, and gratifying.
A faux headboard backdrop makes for a lovely holiday look. It’s simple and elegant and the wardrobe will dictate the type of outcome you have. This is an excellent example of how ONE drop can allow multiple looks based on the client’s personal preference. It also eliminates a lot of set up and change outs for you, the photographer. We work hard enough to get the perfect shot. We don’t have time to be an interior decorator as well. If they are looking for Christmas inspired photos, you can add in a few simple toss pillows and suggest cute holiday PJ’s. Because the drop is so simple, ANY color palette will work and you aren’t fighting contrasting looks.
Now let’s take this SAME backdrop and completely change the style to a dressier look. This is great for clients that are looking for a more non-secular shoot, or a more stylistic approach. I simply removed the toss pillows to create a more general look. The same exact set-up allowed for multiple looks.
Now let’s completely change up the vibe. Here is an example of how a simple brick background can offer multiple looks for the holidays. Again, wardrobe is key. Offering your clients CLEAR directive on what to wear and WHY. When shooting with a very neutral backdrop, you have the freedom to encourage colors that pop, textures, layers, hats and accessories. They won’t fight the backdrop but instead, jump off of it.
Now let’s go from neutral backdrop to a more vibrant look. Here is an example of a colorful and fun backdrop that feels whimsical and “wintry” but still allows for a non-secular look. Many clients love the impression of a winter scene but prefer the photos extend beyond a holiday card.
As a true country girl at heart and Pennsylvania native, I love the look of a barn door. This drop is perfect for creating a rustic look for the holidays. With the simplest wardrobe variations, you can create a holiday card or a classic portrait that could be displayed above a fireplace. Again, holiday mini sessions don’t always need a holiday backdrop. They just need creativity.
Drawing inspiration from the classic carol, “Silver and Gold”, I chose this timeless backdrop as my look of choice for my 2019 Holiday Mini Sessions. No props, no added elements. Just a subject in front of a beautiful backdrop that served as an exquisite holiday card, or a piece of art for the client’s home.
I was particularly drawn to this drop because of it's magical feel and powerful dimension. Twinkle lights are always fun and the variety that is set up in the color tones of the “lights” allows for a nice variety of wardrobe. By adding red and green to my subjects I naturally created a holiday look. Replace that with a blue or purple tone and you’ve instantly created a different look. One drop, multiple possibilities.
About the Arthor
Amy Cannon, is a self-taught, award-winning portrait photographer whose work has been nationally recognized and featured in multiple publications. Amy offers in-studio and on-location services for clients of all ages in the New York City Metro Area and Long Island. She is a proud single mom to a 12-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl. In addition to her photography business, Amy is an award-winning live show writer, copy writer and voice over artist. She has written over 500 live stage shows for brands such as Mattel, CBS and The Hershey Corporation and her work can be seen at Theme Parks, Resorts and Cruise Ships all over the world. Amy is also the creator of “Polish Your Pixels”, a 90-minute online workshop designed to help you take and create stunning photographs directly from your smartphone. You can follow her on IG @amy_that_glitters
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