Capture life’s special moments with local photographers

TaraSwainFor many, Christmas photos are as much a tradition as celebrating the holiday itself. Want to have a family photo to send out on cards or sit on your mantle? Paris has got you covered!

Admittedly, those who wish to take professional Christmas photos probably have done so already, since most local photography businesses offer holiday shoots weeks (and sometimes even months) in advance. However, if you wish to plan for next Christmas, Easter, or any other event, look no further. Paris is home to many photography businesses, all of which are guaranteed to beautifully capture life’s special moments.

Several businesses recently offered special settings to get people in the spirit and spread the holiday cheer. Usually, they will offer “mini-sessions” throughout the year during which patrons can take photos at a discounted price. These sessions allow the businesses to accommodate a large number of customers in a small amount of time.

Since opening Tara Swain Photography in January 2008, owner Tara Swain has expanded her services to include both outdoor and indoor sessions. Though she specializes in wedding and children’s photography, she stated family and holiday photos are popular this time of year.

“Although I am still busy with weddings, babies, etc.,” Swain said. “Family sessions and Christmas themed mini-sessions are a big part of my calendar this time of year.”

Jennifer Cook of Lifestyles Photography graduated from Texas A&M Commerce with a degree in photography and has been in business in Paris for the past eight years. Her services offered include children, maternity, engagement, family, wedding, commercial and event photography. She stated that on top of her normal scheduled sessions, she aims to offer mini-sessions once every three months. In addition to her fall family sessions, she also held Christmas photo shoots, which included child holiday mini-sessions.

“I did offer a Christmas special at the end of November,” Cook said. “It was a 20 minute, in-studio mini-session, which included the DVD of 12-15 high resolution images with a Christmas setup.”

Cook also stated that she will host a mini-session day for Valentine’s Day in February, and another in the spring for families.

Kristin LaRue of Kristin LaRue Photography has been in the business since 2008. She offers portraits, prints, albums, gift certificates and various other items that you can show off (or give) to everyone you know. She also offers mini-sessions all year-round with an added bonus.

“I typically host mini-session days for most holidays,” LaRue said. “Pricing is a bit cheaper and you get a disc of images for free.”

Christmastime is pretty much guaranteed to be the busiest time of year for photographers. With all the costumes and bright colors, the appeal of holiday photos is easy to see. However, all three business owners stated that their spring and fall calendars are often full as well.

“Spring runs a close race with Christmastime,” Swain said. “Families want family sessions this time of year for Christmas cards and Christmas gifts.”

“Fall and spring are definitely busy,” Cook said. “But as my business grows, I see the summer filling as well.”

“Most everyone loves photos in the fall when the leaves look amazing,” LaRue said. “In Texas, that makes November my busiest month.”

Each business offers different setups for several occasions, so each photo is sure to be unique. This year’s Christmas photo sessions proved to be no exception.

“This year the setup was a vintage ‘room’ covered in Christmas decorations,” Swain said. “And kids got to enjoy gingerbread cookies provided by GirlsandCake in Downtown Paris.”

In addition to her own holiday photo set, each year, Swain works with Paris Baby to provide pictures with Santa. Usually scheduled to occur in November and early December, these sessions include a styled setup right in the store.

“We take appointments for these and they are always a huge hit,” she said.

Though LaRue’s sessions were rescheduled due to the recent ice storm, customers could choose between colorful and traditional Christmas backgrounds, as well as the option to wear costumes. She stated that most photos taken this time of year are of families.

“They make awesome Christmas gifts for family and Mom gets her annual wish of updated family photos,” she said.

Cook said she ventured from the traditional Christmas and holiday themes this year.

“Lifestyles Photography’s holiday sessions consisted of a winter theme with gold and silver accent,” she said. “I try to stray away from the normal Christmas colors so that the children stand out in the images.”

Swain, LaRue and Cook each run their businesses and are, for the most part, the sole photographers. However, Swain and Cook did state they sometimes employ a second photographer for weddings.

“For weddings, I do hire a second shooter and it’s generally a college student majoring in photography,” Cook said. “I think that giving a student work benefits both them and myself.”

Even if the photos or Christmas cards have already been sent out for the year, children still have the opportunity to write to Santa from a special mailbox at Paris Baby.

“This year…children were able to write out a letter to Santa and put it in the beautiful ‘North Pole mailbox’ (that my husband and I built) so that we could mail them back to Santa’s workshop, so he didn’t lose them on the trip home,” Swain said. “The mailbox will remain in Paris Baby’s store until Christmas. Children are welcome to come by and send a letter to Santa as often as they like.”

Christmas may almost be here, but it’s never too late (or early) to plan your next portrait or family photo! Next year’s Christmas photos are sure to be as festive and wonderful as this year’s photos. For any occasion or holiday, visit any of our local photography businesses. There are many more! You will not be disappointed.

For more information about any of the businesses mentioned in this article, visit their websites at,, or

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Courtney McNeal