Tips for a Successful Holiday Photo (and Why You Should Frame Your Favorites)

‘Tis the season for Christmas shopping chaos, scarves and sweaters, peppermint everything… and, of course, seasonal family photoshoots and holiday cards. Holiday greeting cards are a popular way to keep your loved ones updated on family happenings, reflect on the previous year, and remind out-of-town friends and family of your appreciation. Plus, the resulting family photos look great framed by grandma’s bedside, hanging above your own family mantle, or wrapped under the Christmas tree as a thoughtful gift. But how do you snap a photo that highlights the best features of every member of your gang? It’s a tall order, but here are some tips to help make it happen.

1. Decide who will snap the photo

Because you’ll likely want to squeeze the whole family into frame, your options essentially boil down to using a self-timer, enlisting the help of a friend or neighbor, or hiring a professional photographer. If you’re unable to borrow a neighbor or a stranger or unwilling to risk a series of amateur shots with a thumb over the lens, it may be best to schedule some face time with a professional. Many families prefer to shell out some cash for high-quality, professionally staged shots taken with all the right gear. This is an especially worthwhile investment if you want the additional option of ordering larger-sized prints for gifts or personal use in your frame of choice (smartphone pictures in particular tend to lose quality when resized).

2. Choose your background

Go for a neutral background to avoid overpowering the true stars of your holiday card photo: your family! It can be anything from a seasonal backdrop such as a Christmas tree farm to a simple natural landscape. You can even shoot in your home, which is often easier for those with small children or pets.

3. Consider lighting

The goal is to settle on a shoot location with consistent and natural lighting. Consider whether there may be harsh shadows, which could distract from the photo. If you’ll be shooting in your home, turn off all overhead lights and lamps, and plan to set up near a window with plenty of natural light.

4. Dress accordingly

Busy patterns or ultra-bold color choices can overshadow the photo subjects. Choose something that reflects your family’s style, but keep it as neutral as possible. Consider your background when choosing a color scheme — for instance, all white on a white background might cause your family to look like floating heads.

5. Try different photo options

Be willing to get creative! Include seasonal props or allow your pets to be part of the fun. Mix up where people are positioned in the photo, take posed and candids, and try different shots. Shoot a few close-ups and a few wide-frame shots so you have a variety of options to choose from. A good rule of thumb is to take some vertical and some horizontal photos. Wide-frame shots also allow for more flexibility when cropping.

6. Edit

Hooray! You’ve finally got your photos. If you’re using a professional photographer, editing services may likely be included in your shoot package. Otherwise, you may want to do some simple retouching at home. Subtle edits can make a world of difference. You can adjust the brightness or exposure level, crop to the desired size, select the best photo for your holiday card and choose your card layout and design, and select additional prints for framing and gifting.

Once you send your card out to friends and family, get creative with your extra prints! Bring in or print multiple sizes of your favorite shots for professional framing, or select a ready-made or custom frame to wrap and hand out to grandparents as Christmas gifts. Finally, hang them up in your home for a festive and nostalgic look back at Christmases past.

Do you have a special request? Let us know how we can help you create the perfect gift out of your holiday reel or preserve your best family memories. Happy holidays!

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