by Jenny LeJeune, Owner of LeJeune Photography
My name is Jenny LeJeune and I've been a photographer for 10 years. I love what I do because I enjoy looking back at the memories that were captured and am reminded of that place and time. Photos take me back — back to the smell, the location, the moment, and it helps me relive it over and over. As a military spouse, I know the importance of holiday photos for both myself and our families who live so far away. As a professional photographer, I'd love to share my best tips for making them count.
Tip 1: What to Do When Your Hubby Is Deployed During the Holidays
Year after year, I'm asked about holiday and Christmas photos, and often times, it's before a deployment or right after one. There are many factors to consider when a deployment is looming ahead. While some people think of the kids, the house, bills, and lifestyle changes, I think of photos and lots of them! We typically do "Operation plaster dad all over the house" before a deployment and the kids enjoy it as well. That way during his time away he's still very much with us.
I can honestly say that my husband has never missed a Christmas with us and we have been very fortunate. Last year he returned December 16, the day before our 11th wedding anniversary and as a mother and type A person there was no way I was going to be spending our post deployment worrying about family photos. So, I did the unthinkable. I photographed my kids without me and him. Guess what? It was awesome, and they came out perfect and everyone loved our Christmas cards that year. It was on our post-deployment leave that we got to take family photos in Yosemite. People that knew us and were worthy of a Christmas Card knew he had been deployed and knew there was no way that I could just skip Christmas Cards. I've had many clients do the same. If their husband won't be home for Christmas or Christmas cards, then we typically do the family session before the deployment or we just photograph the children.
Tip 2: Use Pinterest!
I highly recommend Pinterest in helping find the perfect color scheme and outfits worthy of family portraits. I for one always ask clients to send me photos of their wardrobe in advance so I can make suggestions. I started doing this after I had one client show up to a western type setting in beach clothes (I plan on keeping this from happening again).
Tip 3: Prep the Kiddos, But Don’t Worry If They Fall Apart
Making sure the kiddos are fed ahead of time and that the youngest has had a good night’s sleep and remains on nap schedule are crucial, but sometimes (many times) it just happens — no matter how much planning went in, no matter how much bribery and money you've spent on those outfits, sometimes kids are just not interested. THAT'S OKAY! Let them run free, play, laugh, and be themselves, because 9 times out of 10 the second you leave them alone and just start shooting mom and dad they want in on the fun. I've never had a session so bad that I couldn't salvage our time and get good shots. This is one of the main reasons I don't offer mini sessions for families. I need more time with my clients and do not rush my sessions. I'd rather have more time and better photos than less time and okay photos because I was rushed.
Tip 4: Milspouse to Milspouse
All families should consider a pre-deployment family photo session, not just for Christmas Cards, but to have and cherish for those 6-12 months that he'll be away. We took those as well before my husband left, in addition to the ones I had my heart set on during post deployment leave in Yosemite. Whether your spouse will be gone during the holidays or not, you won’t regret having pictures of your family to cling to while he’s gone!