Tips for a Great Christmas Photo Card

With summer well past us, I figured it was time to provide you some tips on how to take a great family photo to use for your Christmas Cards this year.

1) Prepare:

Everyone know that getting the entire family together for a formal photograph can be a daunting task. Family must come from all over the place, some have short attention spans, babies crying, making sure make-up is correct, other wanting to go out shopping, eating, and visiting others. So, giving the photo subjects plenty of time is key. And not planning the day, but also the time. to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure that your location is scouted out, that everyone knows where it is, and that lighting is sufficient for that locale.

Having everyone dressing in similar colors that complement the background will also help in getting that winning shot. Not that everyone has to dress in the same outfit, but outfits that are similar in appearance so the tones complement the location (lighter shirts for a dark background, etc.).

Make sure that you know who is taking your photographs. Do they know how to operate your camera or will they use their own? Will you be using a self-timer and trying to “run into” the photo? Either way, make sure that equipment “issues” don’t prevent you from getting the photo.

2) Arrange your subjects:

When you get to the location, make sure you pay attention to the arrangement of your subjects. Don’t line everyone up like tin soldiers. Make sure that you don’t arrange so people are standing directly in front or behind others. Find unique arrangements and experiment. Start with an “anchor” person (maybe someone that needs extra help) and fill in the others around them. Try arranging in a triangle, perhaps. Bring in any ground cover for people to sit or kneel on, if needed.

Place children last–that way they are not complaining about having to stand around so long while you prepare everyone else.

And above all else, on sunny days arrange so the sun is behind people and use a flash. Having the sun directly in front of people creates “squinty eyes”, but having the sun behind will add depth to the shot.

3) Take the shots:

When the time has come and everyone has been placed, go ahead and start shooting. Like previously mentioned, use your flash even though your camera might be telling you it is not needed.

Vary your shots. Try taking some from slightly different angles. Try arranging your subject differently. Get all the formal shots out of the way first, and then try some fun shots. Let everyone relax but keep shooting. Try an arms raised or a group hug shot. And with digital photos, don’t be afraid to take 50 or more photos. If you’re experimenting with different things, you’ll want to make sure that you have some good shot in case the “experimentals” don’t turn out as expected.

4) Print and share!

Finally, don’t keep the photos to yourself. Print them out at your favorite photo printer and get everyone a copy. They’ll appreciate much more than if you were to just email it. And most printers offer templates for those special Holiday Cards–go ahead and get some printed with your great family photo. Or do something crazy and get that photo printed out on a sweater and wear it around. It will definitely show your holiday spirit!

God’s blessings to you and your family this Christmas,


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