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Tips to Take The Perfect Holiday Card Photo

Tips to Take The Perfect Holiday Card Photo

holiday card photo

There comes a time where every family thinks about how cute and fun it would be to create a family holiday photo card to send to their loved ones and friends. 

Creating a holiday card is an adorable way to greet your loved ones into the holiday season, but it also offers a few other benefits too.

  • Gives relatives a chance to view updated photos of the family
  • Brings joy and heartwarming emotions to the most important people in your family (such as Grandparents)
  • Engraves the memory into eternity, allowing you to look back at the era and reminisce on great times

If you have never created holiday cards before, you may find this article helpful in figuring out what to do and how to make it special.

Creating the Scene

First you must consider what you want from your photo cards.  Are you planning on creating one general card for the season, or something more specific like personalized Christmas cards?  For instance, custom Christmas cards should be easily identifiable with Christmas décor incorporated into the shot, whereas for something more general, you may only need to include a seasonal theme.

Let’s go through some ideas.

  • In front of a Christmas tree – An ideal setting for iconic photo Christmas cards. Whether you’re shooting this in front of the Christmas tree at home or outside using the town or city’s tree, you can’t get a more defined Christmas greeting card than one with your family standing in front of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.
  • Christmas tree shopping – Capturing the environment of preparing for the holidays portrays a family activity of picking a tree with your family in an awesome setting of the Christmas tree farm which displays deep meaning of unity, togetherness, and love.
  • Within Nature – Think of your backyard, parks, forests, and hiking trails. Anywhere the environment depicts elements of fall and winter seasons.  There are many creative ways to incorporate the season by keeping things like snow, golden brown leaves, or leaf piles within the composition of your frame.  This scene can be a classical portrait or feel free to have fun jumping in the leaves or creating snow angels and snowmen.
  • At home – Shooting your holiday photo cards in an intimate setting such as in bed with the kids or in front of a fireplace will create an immersive holiday card that is very inviting.
  • For outdoor photos, utilize golden hour – Enhance your scene by using that natural beauty of the sun to create a glowing effect over your family. You can do this with any type of outdoor setting, for any kind of holiday card.  Golden hour is 1 hour after sunrise and 1 hour before sunset, when the sun gleams.  Golden hour photography is legendary.

What to wear?

Like any photoshoot, dressing the part will play a big role in portraying the tone of the image.  Coordinating outfits is a fun simple way to make your holiday card seem more professional and complete but it’s not the only way to dress up for holiday photo cards.  If you have family members who boast individuality, you may way want to consider other options that they will be more receptive to.  The most important thing is that the outfits reflect the message.  Even if you are not using a family uniform, the outfits should still match in a way that compliments each other and the scene, such as wearing flannel outdoors during golden hour while posing in front of a gorgeous Christmas tree.

You can have a lot of fun shooting indoor because you won’t need a jacket or coat.  This allows for more flattering silhouettes which are usually masked by bulky coats, and even more so, you can do fun things like wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and fun props like Santa hats and reindeer antlers.  Feel free to go as far as dressing the kids up as elves while the parents are Santa and Mrs. Claus.  You can really have a lot of fun and take your shoot to a whole different level by incorporating clever holiday ideas and themes.

Props & Poses

Creating holiday photo cards with your family is a fun activity that brings everyone together.  It should be fun and silly as much as it should be serious.  It is a time to remember, so make it a fun special experience with depth and meaning, but also with fun and laughter.  This also will provide you with plenty of photographs to choose from when finalizing your holiday photo cards. 

Props are extremely important for photoshoots like holiday cards because it completes the photo and compliments the tone.  You should have an idea what props you will want to use once you decide on the scene to shoot in and the outfits to wear.  Holiday props are easy to think of and can be anything from pumpkins to ugly Christmas sweaters.  You should decorate the scene with holiday props that represent, such as personalized stockings by the fireplace, ornaments, presents, Santa hats, and anything else that you think would be fun and interesting if it fits the scene.

When it comes to poses, acting natural is always the best because it will result in a genuine picture that looks great.  Especially when you consider the scene and environment, authenticity is crucial.  Classic family portraits are essential but be sure to take photos with everyone acting goofy as well.  Take as many photos as you can, you can always sort through and reject them later.  This way you have enough material to find the perfect shot for your card.  This will also enable you to create cards with different photographs for different people, like sending intimate photo cards to family and more fun photo cards to friends.

holiday card photo

Photography Gear & Shooting Techniques

The quality of your holiday cards will only be as good as the camera you are using allows.  Every family needs to have a great camera to capture their family growing through life.  If you don’t have a proper camera, this is the best time to be shopping for one as it’s holiday season and there are tons of great deals for well known camera brands like Nikon, Canon, and Sony.  You will also want to ensure you get the correct compatible lenses for your camera whether it be a NIKKOR (for Nikon cameras) or SIGMA (for Canon and Sony cameras).

Using a great camera as mentioned will provide much higher quality photos because of their advanced imaging sensors, focus features, and exposure functions.  You will find it difficult getting the perfect holiday card photo if you’re using a smartphone.

When shooting your family, the most important technique is keeping everything proportionate within the frame.  Things like taking the picture from the right height, incorporating the background and props, and the space in between the subjects and the borders of the frame are all things to consider when setting up your camera.  A good camera will have powerful auto features to assist you in getting the perfect shot, but if you’re brave enough to try adjusting your ISO and aperture, you can enhance the artistic nature of your shot, especially when shooting outdoors in sunlight.

Shooting candid shots of your family is a great method for capturing the silly side of the moment.  Don’t be shy, just keep snapping.

You will also want to get acquainted with the timer functions on your camera so you can be included in the shot of course.  Owning a good tripod is the secret to successfully achieving the best possible photographs since you can lock your camera into a position.


Now that you have a lot of photo options for your holiday card, it’s time to figure out how to put it all together.  Feel free to create several types of photo cards from serious to silly, or a mix of everything.  You can also have more than one photo if your card is a bifold which will give you the chance to add a more serious cover with perhaps something more fun for the inside. 

Your holiday card can also include kind words or a holiday blessing if you want to create a more personalized touch, but something as simple as a greeting also works well.  Consider your options, you can always add handwritten notes to any of the cards to make them even more special for certain family members like grandparents.

Lastly, holidays are all about giving and showing appreciation to those closest to your heart.  Don’t forget to find the perfect gift to go along with your holiday photo card to express your deepest love and gratitude for the people who are your world.

holiday card photo
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