Tis’ the Season for Holiday greetings, with pictures of you and your fiancee, of your kiddos, or just your beloved fur baby.  We’ve compiled our 2018 list of Charlotte’s most Instagram worthy spots sprinkled in pro tips from Charlotte photographers to get that unique, memorable, and perfectly-you holiday shot.

Pro Tip: “Have fun and let your personality (essence) shine. Holiday season is the perfect ending to a long year. A time to wind down, enjoy family and make everlasting memories. Say no to boring poses.” –Kwadeidra Zhane’ Wilson, KZW Capturing Essence, LLC

 

~  Lake Norman Location Ideas ~ 

Fisher Farm

Fisher Farm is nestled just outside of Davidson with a 200-acre park, and is photographers dream for beautiful fall foliage, open fields, and nature vibes.

“As for locations, I love any wooded areas! There are so many great ones around Charlotte but one of my favorites to venture over to is Fisher Farms. There they have great big open fields with wooded backdrops and trails.”Katie G., TRIPP Photography

“My favorite place to shoot in the Charlotte area is Fisher Farm in Davidson. Dogs are safe and away from traffic. Plus there are tons of places to explore – fields, trails, and a creek!”Sarah McGraw Photography

Latta Plantation

Latta Plantation combines history with the present; historic houses add that rustic charm to photos. Bonus that there is also a Lake spot for taking pictures and lots of wooded areas.

Mooresville Downtown

Downtown Mooresville takes you back in time with authentic brick buildings, vintage murals, and angel wings.  You will be sure to create unique images here.

Pro Tip: “Never use the pop-up flash that comes on most cameras. If you need more light, get an external flash that will mount on your camera’s hot shoe. Get a used one for under $50 at places like KEH.com”  Jessica Horton JJ Horton Photography

Carrigan Farms

Carrigan Farms offers rolling hills, beautiful outdoor scenes, and a stunning rock quarry.

Pro Tip: “Many times younger kids will be on their best behavior when their parents aren’t standing behind the photographer giving them instruction. At your holiday photo session this year, put a bit of distance between yourself and your kids and let your photographer bring out their personality by asking them questions and getting to know them.” Laurel Belle Photography

 

Downtown Davidson

You will find all the small town charm in Downtown Davidson. Brick buildings, hidden alleyways, and those adorable red photo booths. (Note: you must have a permit to photograph professionally at Davidson College).

Pro Tip: “As they say, the eyes are the windows to the soul. To get a shot that really connects with the viewer, make sure your pet’s eyes are in focus. If your camera has the option, use the eye-detection feature or manually select the focus point over Fluffy’s eyes.” Sarah McGraw Photography 

Lake Norman Park: Ramsey Creek or Jetton Park

Lake scenes, rustic woods, and bridges will create stunning images that you will cherish all year long. Get that perfect shot on the shoreline of one of these parks.

 

 

~  Charlotte Location Ideas ~ 

Thanksgiving and Holiday Events

Don’t forget the seasonal opportunity of a photo at the Parade, the Holidays on Ice, Tree Lightings, the Christmas Village or any of the several dozen Holiday events around town. This is at least one good reason to have the holiday themes and decorations go up right after Halloween, right?

 

7th Street Station and Public Market

“Are you new to Charlotte and want to show off your new city??  How about heading to the top of one of the parking decks for a family photo with the city skyline behind you.  The 7th Street Station Public Market Parking Structure is just one of several locations that offers a fantastic view. “ Renee Stengel Photography

Fahrenheit

Fahrenheit is one of the most Instagrammed spots in Charlotte. And why not? It offers a draw dropping skyline of Charlotte that will add pizazz to any Holiday Greeting.

The Bechtler

The Bechtler and its Firebird are the perfect backdrop for the lover of all things modern and artsy.

Pro Tip: “To the family I would say this: don’t worry about trying to be “perfect” or have it all together.  Sometimes your kids may be insane, and most likely they aren’t pumped about family photos, so learn to make it fun.  Tickle each other, crack jokes, maybe even be a little pest. What it really comes down to is: be yourselves.”- Scott Broome Photography 

NODA

NODA is full of eclectic taste, colorful murals, and beautiful brick for creating uniquely local holiday greetings this year.

Camp North End

“Do you like a more Urban Feel?  What about heading to Camp North End and exploring the stairs, concrete, brick and old buildings for some fun backdrops.” Renee Stengel Photography

Independence Park

Independence Park offers beautiful greenery for backgrounds plus the added bonus of a reflection pond and stone breezeway to spice up your pictures.

Freedom Park

Freedom Park has a lot to offer from exposed brick stairs and beautiful bridges to hidden walkways; you will be sure to find something that will create a lovely backdrop here.

“Do an urban session in Uptown and take advantage of some of the amazing mural walls or garage doors.  Then end at a local Coffee Shop for Hot Chocolate and Pastries. Do your session at Freedom Park and then head to Duck Donuts in Dilworth for a sugary treat!”Renee Stengel Photography

Hodges Family Farm

“When it comes to locations, traditionally most classic holiday cards are taken at home, however, thinking outside the box when taking holiday portraits is a unique way to capture the essence of your family. Christmas tree farms/lots are great locations, your backyard, local parks,  the Uptown skyline, and local farms such as Hodges family Farm are serves as a great backdrop for amazing photoshoots.” Keturah Keita Photography

Keep it simple: Stay at Home

Be yourself.  If your family is the laid back kind, then your holiday cards should reflect the same. I always tell my clients to be in your natural element. It makes for a more organic photoshoot experience. As a mom of 4 I get my best photos when my kids are doing what they do best– be themselves. So wearing your festive PJ’s and colorful Christmas socks as you lounge on your bed or around the fireplace is a great way to send holiday cheer and also set the tone for spending time with family…don’t forget to add in the “props” of hot cocoa and mistletoe!” Keturah Keita Photography

 

~ More Tips from the Local Pro’s ~

This is your holiday card, and it should come from the heart.  No matter where you are, at home or in a beautiful location, the magic that shows through in your pictures is from the love you and your family share.

I saw a meme recently that made me cringe.  It said, “Behind every Holiday Photoshoot is a Mom threatening to cancel all joy and happiness until the end of time if everyone doesn’t sit still and smile for 2 freaking seconds!”  And while ~ as a mom of three boys ~ I certainly understand the idea behind it, as a photographer, I work hard to make sure my families walk away from every photoshoot with happy memories!  One way I love to make Holiday Photos fun is with Fireside Cookies & Milk Sessions. I have fresh baked cookies from a local baker, hot chocolate, and peppermint sticks. I wear a Mrs. Claus apron, and we talk about the Holidays coming.  We have fun building up excitement about Christmas. My littles always look forward to coming back from year to year because we just make it fun! Renee Stengel Photography 

 

Capture the “in-between”:

Our lives aren’t made in the picture perfect snapshots we post on Instagram, real love shines through when we smile at children simply playing together.  These are the moments that define who we are, in between the smiles and the perfect hair, the moments that are simple, pure, and genuine.

Pro Tip: “The in-between time is the time when the family isn’t necessarily posing for photos, or the pose has gone out the window because someone messed up and now everyone is laughing.  I’M TELLING YOU these are the moments you must capture. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes having these raw and genuine moments captured on camera. This gives people family photos that are actually who they are.  Not cookie cutter, not generic, but real, authentic people with their own expressions, love, and quirks. So get the in-between!”- Scott Broome Photography

Be Patient:

Like all good things, getting that perfect shot takes time.  Mentally prepare yourself and your family that this may take awhile.

Pro Tip: “One of the most important things to have when photographing your pet is patience. Be patient with your camera, be patient with your pet, and be patient with your skill level. All new hobbies take time to learn. If you’re frustrated, your furbaby will pick up on that energy and will inevitably feel less comfortable in front of the camera.”  Sarah McGraw Photography 

Be Natural:

Forget the posed predictable photos, try something new, fun and different to really spice up your holiday cards.

Pro Tip: The most important thing to me when it comes to getting a great holiday shot, (or any photograph really,) is movement! I think it is so important not to get stuck in the same posed positions over and over again. The pictures you’re going to really enjoy looking back at are the ones that capture those magical little in-between moments. For a couples shoot, those moments are the ones that really show your love. For a family, those are the real moments when the most joy and most importantly, giggles get captured.”- Katie G., TRIPP Photography