8 Simple Tips for a Memorable Holiday Card

8 Simple Tips for a Memorable Holiday Card

Photos by Paola Ponchielli and Marcie Reif
Sponsored by Tamron Lenses USA

This year especially, families may be opting for a quieter holiday season at home, rather than traveling or taking part in large gatherings. But we’re also craving connection more than ever, and the holiday card you send to loved ones can help you forge that connection, no matter how many miles may separate you. Read on for tips from photo pros Paola Ponchielli and Marcie Reif on how to make the photo you shoot for your card creative, eye-catching, and bursting with some sorely needed seasonal cheer.

Focus on a family tradition.

Whether it shows everyone lighting the menorah, baking cookies, or visiting a pine and fir farm to bring home the perfect tree, taking a photo of a treasured moment you experience each year as a family is not only a way to preserve that memory—it may even inspire others to start their own. Heading outdoors offers a neutral backdrop with complementary greenery to add to the holiday feel. Because holiday cards often tend to center on the kids, a photo like this is also a way to make sure all members of your family are included on your holiday card.

 

Capture the kids in their holiday PJs. 

Image by Marcie Reif

Image by Marcie Reif

What brings to mind the feeling of the season better than remembering the excitement and anticipation you felt as a child the night before a big holiday? Keep all other elements in the frame as simple as possible so that the patterns and colors of the kids’ pajamas are the main focus. If there are too many props, or the background is too busy, it will distract from your subjects. Many places sell backdrops, like the bed frame one seen here, that you can swap out each year for a completely different image.

 

Simulate a ‘white Christmas.’ 

Image by Marcie Reif | Portrait in the Snow

Image by Marcie Reif 

Not everyone lives in a winter wonderland come December. For those who live in warm-weather areas, or if Mother Nature simply isn’t cooperating on the day you want to take your photo, incorporate some fake snow. You can find bags of it at most major retailers that sell holiday decorations. It makes the kids you’re photographing incredibly happy, which elicits natural, joyous reactions. Just be aware that fake snow can get kind of messy—shoot outdoors if possible.

 

Let holiday colors tell the story.

Image by Marcie Reif

Image by Marcie Reif 

If you want a classic holiday photo that’s more subtle—and that can hang in your home year-round—take an environmental portrait that uses the background to show the holiday spirit. Dress your subject(s) in neutral clothing and place colorful pillows and blankets or even a well-positioned, newly cut tree behind them.

 

Showcase relationships. 

Image by Paola Ponchielli

Image by Paola Ponchielli

You know how your family members interact on a day-to-day basis. The photo you choose for your holiday card can illustrate those interactions for everyone on your mailing list. Whether it’s a mom snuggling with her toddler or siblings wrestling playfully, this type of photo also serves as a reminder of the special moments, rapport, and love your family members share.

 

Place your subject in the foreground, with your holiday decor as the backdrop. 

Image by Paola Ponchielli

Image by Paola Ponchielli 

While you always want the main focus on your subject, frame the image to also show how your family celebrates the season, perhaps with a plate of Christmas cookies on the table behind your subjects, or a decked-out console in the background as your child writes out her list for Santa. Coming down to a child’s eye level is also an effective way to make the viewer feel like they’re in the scene, too.

 

Include holiday lights in the shot. 

Image by Paola Ponchielli

Image by Paola Ponchielli

The illumination of your Christmas tree, lit menorah, or electronic outdoor “icicles” add a calming ambiance to any portrait. You may have to boost your ISO if you’re shooting in low-light conditions. Shoot as wide open as possible to keep that merry and bright background softly blurred and your subject sharp. A posed shot can turn out beautifully, as can a candid. Keep talking to your subject and shooting until you capture that perfect, natural moment. You’ll know it when you see it.

 

Show off your family’s sense of humor. 

Image by Paola Ponchielli 

Image by Paola Ponchielli

Holiday cards are often cute, inspiring, nostalgic—why can’t they be funny, too? Think up some humorous scenarios and have your family members act them out in front of your camera, or re-create classic holiday scenes with your own twist. It’s a creative way to highlight everyone’s personalities, both individually and as a family.

 

To see more of Marci Reif's work, go to https://marciereif.com or follow on Instagram

To see more of Paola Ponchielli's work, go to https://www.paolaphoto.com or follow on Instagram

For more tips on creative holiday photos, register for our upcoming Holiday Photos class on Saturday, December 5 from 2pm - 4pm. Learn More > 

 

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