Personalized photo holiday cards are hugely popular because the winter holidays are usually the one time per year when extended family and friends can catch up through a medium that is not electronic. Email and ecards are fine for other holidays or times of the year, but for the winter holidays most people expect and very much appreciate a heartfelt, good looking photo card that comes via snail mail.
1. Think About And Set The Stage Well In Advance: Think about how you’d like to portray your family. Do you want a formal or casual look? Outdoors or indoors? Whatever you chose, look for a colorful background with good symmetry – i.e. if there are pillars are plants on one side of the photo – make sure there is a matching item on the other side). Once you’ve decided on your background, set up furniture of lifts so that family members are staged at different levels. Some will be sitting or kneeling while others are elevated or standing.
2. Coordinate Clothing, But Keep It Simple: You will want your family’s clothing to coordinate with the background colors. Don’t chose clothing that is bold, distracting and clashing, and don’t dress adults in silly clothing just to match the children. Simply solids in white, black, blue, or red staples often show off skin tones best.
3. Make It Fast: Kids and pets have a short attention span. Have everything set up in advance and take the photos and quick succession while your kids are enthusiastic and relaxed.
4. Use Lighting To Your Advantage: Whether you are taking your photo inside or out, make sure the lighting source is behind the photographer or automatic camera. Day light gives a softer, more natural result. Bright mid day light is often too harsh. Shoot for morning or late afternoon. You can avoid red eyes by having the family members look directly at the light source before the photo is taken. (Another reason to avoid bright light). The pupils will shrink and red eye will be avoided.
5. Showcase Your Family’s Smiling Faces: Most holiday card recipients respond the most favorably to photos where they can experience the emotions of the photo. People are more interested in you and your family rather than seeing your home interior or the background of your vacation.
6. Avoid Staged Smiles: You want to avoid a holiday photo that looks too posed. Either put your camera on a tripod and timer or have a close friend take the photo. Have a few jokes ready to elicit laughter. Avoid the tried and true “say cheese” because this will often produce a fake smile. Ensure that no one is allowing their hands to dangle awkwardly. Have hands on laps, fold them in front, or have them interact with other family members.
7. Use Smart Angles To Showcase Your Kids And Downplay Adult Flaws: Most adults are self conscious of wrinkles, double chins, or bags under eyes. Know that those closest to the camera appear the largest. This is where you want to place your kids or the youngest family members. Don’t look at the camera head on. Stand sideways and rotate your head slightly toward the camera and tilt your chin slightly down (think Paris Hilton on the red carpet). Also, make sure the camera is not below eye level. This is how double chins happen.
9. Make Sure You Entrust Your Photos To A Trustworthy Vendor: Although even grocery stores today have put their hats in the photo developing pool, it doesn’t make sense to put so much work into the perfect shot and then entrust developing the photos to a discount or grocery store.
10. Have Fun With It: Family holiday card photos are becoming a holiday ritual. Make sure you’re creating the memories you’ll cherish by having fun and enjoying family time. Doing so will create wonderful holiday memories and will reward you with the picture you’ll cherish and want to remember for a lifetime.