5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo

  • 5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza

5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo

You have taken everyone else’s family portraits for Holiday cards, but who are you missing?

That’s right, your own family!

Here are a few quick and easy tips to hopefully get you motivated, and get your cards sent out in time.

1. Get inspired

Start looking through the many different photo card styles that are out there. This will help you select the colors for your photos, as well as the background and how many images you may want to share on the card.

2. Keep it simple

My boys aren’t usually dressed up in sweaters and slacks, so I’m going to select outfits that they already have in their closets. Keep it casual but coordinating. Show their personalities.

5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza

3. Choose a location

You know that little field, on the side of the road that has the prettiest light? Or maybe you notice how the light makes the trees sparkle while you are sitting in the pick up line. Go shoot there. Pay attention to the background, look how you can frame your subjects within the light and shadows to help create depth. These were shot in the parking lot at the local church. That afternoon light always caught my eye, and I knew if I positioned the boys far enough from the tree line that it would create beautiful bokeh. Not to mention the reflection from the asphalt would act as a natural reflector.

5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza
5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza

*Notice the range in colors from the leaves. Use depth of field to create rich colors and help frame your subjects.

4. Overshoot – ha!

I will be the first to admit that my kids are not the easiest to capture real genuine emotions. It is true. Your own children are your toughest client. I just keep shooting, waiting for that smile that I know is the real deal. Play with different perspectives. Use foreground to add depth. Move in close. Step way back and include more of the surroundings. It is okay if you do not capture an image with all of your children looking and smiling. My favorites are when I’ve captured a real connection between the boys. Why not take individual portraits just in case? This is also a great time to get a current portrait of each of your kids.

5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza
5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza
5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza
5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza

5. Make it fun!

Do not take your family out for more than 30 minutes. Let them be silly. I found some great items in the dollar bin at Target. Even if I didn’t end up using the shots for my card, the boys had fun. Maybe let them choose an image they want you to take, get them involved. My oldest son is obsessed with Pokemon. I told him if he let me take a few images with his brother, that I would then take a picture of him with his cards. Deal, and done!

5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza
5 tips for the perfect Holiday card photo by Kristin Dokoza

These were all shot with the Canon 5d mark III and the 70-200L at f/3.5 with ISOs of 400 and 800 for the portraits; it was an overcast day and we started shooting at 4:00 p.m. We were driving back home by 4:20. If you haven’t already taken your Holiday photos, what are you waiting for?

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday season!

About the Author:

Kristin, formerly a competitive Quarter Horse exhibitor, happily proclaims that humor and laughter are a must in life, along with tall NF White Mochas and Anthropologie. This California photographer, wife, and mother of two boys fully embraces her clean, colorful, and thoughtful style both in her photography and in her love of design and decor. With a Canon 5d mark III and several choice lenses, Kristin states that “my personal style has definitely influenced my photography. I’m learning to appreciate the beauty in something simple, but always love a bit of color or sparkle added.” Visit Kristin Dokoza online.
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12 Comments

  1. Lisa Benemelis Dec 02 2014 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Great article, Kristin!! I love the variety of images you were able to get in those 20 minutes. Your boys are so handsome and Luis looks extra dapper in his tie. <3

  2. Megan Dec 02 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Loved this, Kristin– that last one! <3 Your boys are getting so big 🙂

  3. Jacob Dec 02 2014 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Hi, I was wondering where you got the Merry Christmas chalkboard, if that’s what it is. Or did you use a template. Thanks, Jacob

    • Kristin Dokoza Dec 02 2014 at 10:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Jacob – chalkboard is from the Target $1 section 🙂

  4. Jodi Dec 03 2014 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Need.to.take.our.card.photos.asap.

    Thanks for the great tips, Kristin!!!

  5. Kim Peterson Dec 03 2014 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    Perfectly wonderful advice and such adorable captures!!!

  6. Jennifer J Dec 04 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

    I need to get this done! Starting with a card layout in mind is such a great tip.

  7. Pam Dec 04 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the pull backs, super sweet moments you captured.

  8. Lara Gowder Dec 08 2014 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Fabulous tips, Kristin! Your boys are so handsome, and I love your pup! I can’t wait to try with my boys this weekend!

  9. Christie Wingo Dec 08 2014 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    These tips are fantastic! Its so encouraging & inspiring to be reminded to keep it real. Thanks for sharing, Kristin!

  10. Emilia Dec 09 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Awesome!

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