Holidays · Photography

Valentine Photo Shoot Tips and Ideas

Things you should already know about me by now. I like taking photos. I like themes. I like holidays. So when these forces are able to be combined I fully take advantage. I can’t even think of a reason why I started sending out photo Valentine cards other than simply because it was an option and because I couldn’t stop myself from coming up with different ideas. Seriously I have had this one idea in my head for 2 years now but every January when I start thinking about a Valentine card I reassess my kids readiness and and if they could pull it off and so far I keep coming to the conclusion that, “nope, this isn’t the year.” I’m not going to disclose what this idea is (because I am going to use it one day and because typed out won’t sound nearly as awesome as this set up that’s going on up in the head) but yea that’s just a little insight into how my mind operates.

2012: Parker’s 1st Valentine’s Day

I didn’t start this Valentine card thing until after Ellie was born. Parker was only 2 weeks old his 1st Valentine’s day and I was in full on survival mode. I remember Valentine’s Day was the first time I took him out of the house by myself (other than to the doc) to go to the grocery store so I could buy sushi for Eric and I to have a special dinner (you know as special as Marsh sushi can be) and I was freaking out because I couldn’t figure out how to fit his carseat in the grocery cart. It was a full on body sweat, everyone has to be staring at me while I figure out this tetris puzzle experience. But we survived. Seriously I would rather keep on having more babies than go back and be a first time mom again. So if that’s where you are, dear reader, it gets better. Truly. Parker’s second Valentine’s Day I was just getting over morning sickness from my pregnancy with Ellie so I took this pic with my phone just to text to family and put on Facebook and called it a day.

Valentine Photo Shoot Ideas

But after that it got real. No longer with newborn, no longer sick and pregnant -I was able to use my creativity to the max. So use these ideas and tips for inspiration in creating your own Valentine photo card.

-INCLUDE SOMETHING SPECIAL. I attached this photo below onto a pocket card (they were leftover from our wedding) and inside the pocket I added a flower seed packet. Menard’s had a 10 for $1 special or something like that so definitely a cheap way to add value to your Valentine. Consider your theme and think of something to add (much like kids do with their Valentine cards).

HAVE THERE BE ACTION. Everyone knows it’s nearly impossible to make a toddler just sit and smile. I’ve found it’s much easier to give them directions other than “say cheese.” This photo was a lot easier because I was asking him to stand on a chair (what?! I never get to do this) and hold a watering can while pretending to sprinkle water on his sister. I also didn’t have the expectation that a smile was necessary for the photo to come out cute. Anytime I want a simple sit and smile it never works!

Valentine Photo Shoot Ideas

INCLUDE SOMETHING NEW. The inspiration for this next photo came from the piano. My older brother was closing a toy store he owned and so all of his nieces and nephews were gifted the various floor models. Our gift included this Melissa & Doug Baby Grand Piano. Our house at the time was pretty small and we didn’t have anywhere to permanently keep it out so it stayed in the box in our basement until I’d randomly think to bring it up for them to play with for the day. Well that ended up being key in getting this photo. See I wouldn’t have gotten this joy had it been a toy they play with everyday. I set it up over nap and then once they woke up I got them ready before taking them out into the living room so that I could take pictures of them playing with it for the first time. There wasn’t any begging them to play with it because they genuinely were intrigued with it. Something that makes noise is almost always a winner too!


-CHOOSE PHOTO CARD TEMPLATE THEN TAKE THE PHOTO.  I didn’t have a strong idea for the below years’ card to begin with so I tried something new by looking online at different photo card templates first. I was browsing Tiny Prints when I saw this card (still available by the way) and knew immediately it’s what I wanted to do. The nice thing about going this route is that I can then set up the frame of the photo knowing it will fit in the template. There have been many times where I have a photo I want to use but can’t find a template that works (my photo is going the wrong way, the text on the template writes over someone’s face or feet, etc).

Valentine Photo Shoot Ideas

-MAKE LEMONADE. Lets just say “love was not in the air” during that photo shoot – like at all. Parker was cold, Ellie wouldn’t look at the camera and Maren was tired and crying. But I just snapped, snapped, snapped with my camera and after coming inside and going through at least a hundred pictures and only finding one that was decent enough for the front (which is the one I used) I realized some of the outtakes were too good not to share as well so I included them on the back. Sometimes you just have to laugh and remember “this is life.” The back of the card is actually what I like going back and looking at more than the front. Happy days, sad days – in the end they are all memorable days. So – and this is important for me to keep remembering – don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t go as planned. Instead get creative!

Valentine Photo Card Ideas

And now for this year’s Valentine’s Day card. It was a hard decision on what would be a “win” with a 5 year old, 3 year old and 15 month old. I used some of my above tips and combined them and came up with one answer: food. I got them dressed and told them to sit down and that dad was going to hand them their “special treat.” Those words were all it took to get smiles started. I had the camera locked and loaded so that as soon as he handed it to them I could begin snapping. I took dozens of photos but the first is actually what turned out the best.

Valentine Photo Shoot Tips and Ideas

You can tell their genuine excitement at getting to eat a donut after dinner – not to mention it was Maren’s first time eating a donut ever! They kept trading donuts with Maren (since she isn’t a fast eater) and frosting and sprinkles got everywhere but it was fun and mama got her picture. That’s really all anyone can ask for! For those curious, instead of using a  template from a photo card website I created my own on with a donut image I found and then went to a photo card website ( in this instance since I found them to have the best promo codes available at the time) and did the “create your own design”option.

I hope these Valentine’s photo shoot tips and ideas have given you some inspiration. Now I leave you with my favorite outtakes (and probably a hankering for donuts)!


Don’t forget to check out our other Valentine posts if you haven’t already:

DIY Valentine Card Ideas for Kids

Valentine Party Ideas

Gift Guide for Littles

Gift Guide for Him & Her

3 thoughts on “Valentine Photo Shoot Tips and Ideas

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