Capturing the Magic Of Christmas

Every year I make a calendar, like many of you, to give to the grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles who all live far and wide. This has been my tradition for 5 or so years, but as my business had gotten busier, the calendar has gotten harder. Right in the middle of the busy season I am trying to scrounge through the catalogs of my year looking for photos that are calendar worthy. Lately, I find that I don't have enough photos of my own family and it makes me a little sad. Now let's be clear, I have THOUSANDS of phone photo. And if you count child taken selfies, my middle child alone once logged 5,236 selfies on one iPad. (so not kidding)  I do include cell phone shots, especially from fun family outings and trips to Disney when suddenly Mickey appeared. I also try to fill the calendar with some of my favorite more formal photos; as an artist I am not as drawn to the beauty of everyday moments as I am to the magic of special moments. 

One of the hardest months to fill has been December. I have amazing summer beach photos, great fall family photos, and special Halloween shoots. Spring saw flower swings and blooming fields of mustard. December though, is hard. So this year I made a promise to myself to try to capture the magic of Christmas. I am a bonafide Christmas junkie. You know the movie Elf, totally me. I really truly believe in Christmas magic, and I believe in Santa. I love lights and sparkles and huge trees right in the middle of living space. (why can't that be an everyday thing?) So why is it that I was failing to capture this for my family? Honestly, it seemed like too much work to add one more thing onto the list of the EVERYTHING I do to make the holidays magic for my three little people and extended family. 

So here is a little Christmas Magic for you. The photo on the right? If you zoom in on the lower part of the window you can see the outline of Santa on his sleigh. I swear to you there is nothing in my house that would make that reflection. Nothing in the yard, no possible answer as to where it came from. Crazy, right?!? Magic. 

So here is a little Christmas Magic for you. The photo on the right? If you zoom in on the lower part of the window you can see the outline of Santa on his sleigh. I swear to you there is nothing in my house that would make that reflection. Nothing in the yard, no possible answer as to where it came from. Crazy, right?!? Magic. 

Once I set my mind to it, I captured these magical Christmas photos for my family in under 10 minutes. Yes, under 10 minutes! I started with the youngest and then added them in order of age. My little one actually loves having her photo taken. My oldest, well let's just say he was bribed. All these photographs were take with a 35mm lens on a Nikon D600. Neither of which I use that often. I am, generally, a long lens gal. 200mm being my preferred focal length. The reason I tell you this, the 35mm lens is generally one of the most affordable lenses to branch out with when you have a new DSLR camera. If you don't have one, a 50mm will do, you will just have to place yourself further back. I find the 35mm to be the best lens for taking pictures inside the house. You too can absolutely capture photos just like this of your family!  

Taking Christmas Tree Photos- Angelika Mitchell Photography

In order to get the tree lights looking their best, place your subject a few feet away from the tree. I you want the lights to blur out and give you nice big balls of light, use an aperture around f1.8, or as open (low number) as your camera can go. I had my ISO at 800, which is the highest I go with this camera. All of these were hand held, with me laying on my belly on the floor. Spot meter to your subject and adjust the shutter speed until you have enough light. You can also get little flares on the lights by moving your focal length closer to f15. It's a totally different, and also fun look. 

I can't tell you how happy I am to have these photos. They really capture, for me, what is magical about Christmas. The tree with sparkling lights, the togetherness of family, the magic of waiting for Santa. The book the kids are reading is The Night Before Christmas, and it's one of those books where you record your voice to read each page. My Dad made it when my oldest was a baby. Every Christmas eve, we gather around and let Gramps read us the Christmas book before we tuck in and wait for Santa. It really is Magic. 

Halloween Vampire Session- Santa Rosa Child Photographer Angelika Mitchell

Happy Halloween from Angelika Mitchell Photography! We actually do a lot of costumes over here. We have a never-ending imagination and lots of clients who are keen to see their favorite story come to life. I am often asked if I can pick a favorite, and the answer is a resounding NO! I really truly can't. There is nothing I love more than a fantasy world come to life. 

I think that often times boys feel a little left out when it comes to photos and styled storybook photos in particular. They don't need to though! Boys have just as much fun dressing up and love to see their fantasies come to life. Superheroes, or magicians, or Peter Pan and Pirates. The opportunities are endless. In honor of Halloween I had a very special boy play dress up with me. (my boy, so I am biased) He actually loves dressing up. We never get rid of his Halloween costume as you just never know when a ninja is going to show up to do homework. I once got a text from my husband while doing laundry that read, only our son has a separate laundry pile for costumes. He is terrible at going out to take portraits with me, but if I ask him to dress up and do a concept shoot- he is amazing! So, noted. 

Vampire Storybook Session Angelika Mitchell Santa Rosa Children Photographer

This year he picked this gothic Vampire costume. He wanted to be a vampire for Halloween, but was super clear it was NOT the count Dracula kind of vampire. This costume comes from Chasing Fireflies and is called the Vampire of Versailles. I think it's perfect. So we dressed up for a costume party this weekend, but right before we stopped by an old cemetery and made a little vampire magic. 

Vampire Session Angelika Mitchell Santa Rosa Photographer

Have a super safe and fun Halloween tonight! And if you live locally, sorry about the rain. (but it's a drought, so we can't actually complain)

Cinderella Storybook Session - Santa Rosa Child Photographer Angelika Mitchell

A sweet little girl was turing two, and wanted nothing more than a photoshoot inspired by her favorite movie, Cinderella. Her Mom and I had so much fun designing her shoot! I just love how it turned out. There is nothing more magical than the imagination of youth; the hard held belief that if you wear the right dress, and play the right music, and you have courage and be kind, you can really truly be a princess! Happy Birthday Sweet Cinderella! 

Storybook Session- Santa Rosa Child Photographer Angelika Mitchell

If you have been following my work for any length of time, you have probably noticed that I love the land of make-believe. I was obsessed with fairies as a child; I have a large flower fairy tattoo on my back. (zinnia, in case you are wondering) My heart really cherishes the time in childhood when all things are possible, when the lines between reality and fantasy are thin, and when children adore playing dress up. This is why the storybook session will always have my heart. 

There is definitely a time to the storybook session. I have had children as young as one who were gorgeous little fairy cherubs. I've seen lots of toddlers and preschooler with their eyes full of wonder. I've adored the elementary school girls with the elegance they bring to their adventures. I do think that there comes a time though, when your kids won't want to play make-believe, and dress up, and become a fairy or Little Red Riding Hood, or Cinderella. Capturing the innocence of childhood is really what these sessions are all about. When you look back at the story your album tells, it will so potently remind you of this special time in your child's life.