Whether you can believe it or not, the holidays are almost here! Now’s the time to send out the annual holiday card. Here are some photography tips to help you get the perfect shot if your budget or time doesn’t allot for a professional photographer.


Holiday Card Tip #1

Photo by Stephanie Glover.

Where you take your photo is important because the backdrop will play a key role.  The best backdrops are textured but not too busy. Stonewalls, doors, bridges and trees are great choices because they add texture but don’t distract. Look for colors that contrast nicely with the outfits you select. Orange and magenta, aqua and browns, blue and yellow and sage and fuscia are popular colors this season and contrast nicely together. For more great ideas on backdrops located in your area, check out Finding Local Backdrops for Your Photos.


Holiday Card Tip #2

How To: Take Great Holiday Card Photos #holiday #cards #photography

Photo by Shauna Steed.

Pets are part of the family and should be included in your holiday card photos. But with pets come a bit more work. When shooting, get down on their level, use props to keep them engaged and focus on their eyes. For more tips and tricks, check out 7 Tips for Photographing Pets. For more inspiration, check out 47 Pet Portraits.


Holiday Card Tip #3

When you book a photo session with a professional, you have an allotted period of time to get the shot. When you’re flying solo, the sky’s the limit. That’s why we recommend you bring refreshments. Pack some small snacks that don’t stain. Good snack foods include: Cheerios, raisins, carrots or slices of turkey. For drinks, water is your best bet. But if you need a juice, stick with apple juice and avoid all red-colored beverages.


Holiday Card Tip #4

How To: Take Great Holiday Card Photos #holiday #cards #photography

Photo by Stephanie Glover.

Switching up your angles creates a more interesting photograph. Especially when 80% of the photographs people take are shot head-on. Instead, shoot differently. Shots taken from above the subject are great with kids and pregnant mommies.  Getting on the ground is great for photographing newborns or pets. This way, you’re on their level and the subject is more at ease. When photographing babies, make sure you wear jeans or dark-colored pants so you won’t spend your time worrying about the dirt you might acquire on your pants. Read these posts for more inspiration: Tips and Tricks for Shooting w/ Creative Angles and 37 Photographs with a Different Perspective.


Holiday Card Tip #5

How To: Take Great Holiday Card Photos #holiday #cards #photography

Photo by Stephanie Glover.

Have you heard of the Rule of Thirds? This is a photography technique that can help you create a compelling composition for your subject. The basic idea is you divide your picture into nine equal parts and put the interesting parts on the intersections. This creates four points of interest. Take for example the image above. By photographing your subject a little bit off-center, the snapshot becomes a portrait. Look closely at the photo and you’ll see grid lines. If you can’t follow the rule when you’re shooting, you can always edit your piece with PicMonkey to align with the rule of thirds. (We’ll explain more about PicMonkey below.) For more inspiration, check out: The Rule of Thirds and 44 Images that Follow the Rule of Thirds.


Holiday Card Tip #6

How To: Take Great Holiday Card Photos #holiday #cards #photography

Photos by 9: Derek Albo, 10: Jessica Vandenbosch, 11: Maegen Lufkin and 12: Patty Hernandez

Sun flares are when the sun hits your photo just right to create a warm, dramatic glow around the entire photo. The best time to capture sun flares is during the Golden Hour, which is usually an hour before sunset. When you’re out shooting, make sure your subject is between you and the light source. This creates the right amount of back lighting that makes your subject look like they are bathed in light. Keep your ISO low, 100 or 200 is best. And if you can’t get it, you can always create it in post-editing. Read these posts for more inspiration: How To: Photograph Sun Flares and  35 Ways to Catch a Sun Flare.


Holiday Card Tip #7

PicMonkey is an awesome free tool that allows you to edit any photo. You can add warm tones, switch up filters, create textural frames around your photos and add a little color to your subject’s cheeks using the blush tool, to name a few features. Once you start playing around with PicMonkey, you’ll quickly become addicted. And this is a great tool if you need to adjust the lighting in your holiday photo. Read these posts for more inspiration: Editing Your Pictures with PicMonkey and 10 Photos Edited with PicMonkey.


Holiday Card Tip #8

How To: Take Great Holiday Card Photos #holiday #cards #photography

Photos taken by 21: Debbie Marker, 22: Stephanie Storkey, 23: Dennis Browne and 24: Robin LaMond-Fairweather.

The Golden Hour is a photographer’s dream. It’s the time of day when the light is so soft, that everything looks great. The trick is finding out your local Golden Hour. The Golden Hour is a great app that calculates everything for you. When shooting during this time, use a wide aperture between f/2 and f/2.2. Shoot really fast, as you don’t have a lot of time. And try and add some sun flares to your photograph. Read these posts for more resources: 7 Tips for Taking Pictures During the Golden Hour and 36 Golden Hour Photographs.


Have a tip we left out? We’d love to hear it! Leave it in the comments below!

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