Category Archives: Christmas Cards

Get a gorgeous shot of your whole family whether you planned to or not.

Taking a family photo on the fly

Planning to take a family photo for your Christmas card or other holiday greetings can be a major hassle. Older kids might be out of the house or your busy schedule could get in the way, which is why you may be tempted to take the picture in the spur of the moment. Whether you're all together for a hiking trip or grandma's big birthday, seize the opportunity to snap a few lovely frames. Of course, you and your family may not be perfectly coordinated, but it's no matter! Follow these tips to get a great picture for those Christmas cards, no matter what you're all wearing:

Make the people the subject
In any photograph you take, you should always define and focus on a subject. Your surroundings could easily become the focal point of the picture if you don't shoot with care. In this case, you and your family are the most important. Make sure the camera is zoomed in close on the people. That doesn't mean you only have to take a picture of your bust, it just means cropping the frame closely. For example, you can capture the entire body of the person in the foreground (or nearest the camera). Crop the picture closely to their head or feet. You can, of course, cut out feet or limit the shot to waist up, whatever you want.

Incorporate numerous levels
Having your family stand in a straight line for your Christmas card is, well, boring. Add levels (or various heights) to the photo by having some people, sit, kneel or stand. You can even make use of your natural surroundings to alter the subjects' positions. For example, have your family stand on a staircase or the rocks you're climbing while on your camping trip. 

If you have small children, changing levels is rather easy. The kids could stand in front of you, or you can stagger between adult and child. Take several pictures in which you change the way you're standing. That way, you can choose from numerous compositions, all of which contain interesting poses.

Tweak and test your camera's settings
Most cameras come with the ability to change the settings, which is especially true if you own a professional device. The settings you use for a close up inside are far different than those you'll want for an outdoor family portrait. Quickly check your settings, snap a few shots for reference and adjust as needed.

Loosen everyone up
Believe it or not, some people get nervous when they are being photographed – shocker, right? The fear of looking silly can cause many people to freeze up, giving them a rigid look in the picture. You want your family portrait to look natural and relaxed, so help your loved ones calm down a bit. Just because they aren't in their best outfits for this impromptu shoot doesn't mean they can't look amazing. Have everyone assume a slackened posture, such as hands in the pockets, shifting weight to one leg or leaning against a wall. Show your family what you mean by demonstrating. Consider assigning a different pose to each person. Basically, think of how people normally stand when they aren't posing.

Bring out the best side
Have everyone check their hair for flyaways before posing. Then place people in a flattering posture. By posing the arms away from the body, you help them look leaner (no torso pressing the muscle outward). People who are self conscious about being taller than the rest of the group can spread their legs apart slightly to appear shorter. 

Above all, have fun
The most natural, relaxed and fun picture will occur as a result of your family simply being themselves. Mess around with each other, have the kids run down the beach or play, whatever you want! 

Three awesome family holiday photo tips

It can be disarming to have to start thinking about taking family photos for the annual Christmas card while it's still beach season. Let's face it, though, the process just works out best this time of year. With the kids out of school and some much-needed vacation days coming to the adults, summer is often the most feasible time to get the entire family together in one place, let alone in front of a camera. Nonetheless, your holiday card photos don't have to be indistinguishable from everyone else's. Check out these three ideas to make sure you get a great family photo for this year's holiday card:

Location, location, location
It may seem a little bit overdone, but there's actually a ton of potential in using a photo taken on a vacation as your holiday card image. You don't need to necessarily be somewhere glamorous, either. It doesn't matter if your family went to the Bahamas this year or took a road trip to see family one state away, people will love to see a picture of you all somewhere unexpected. Given that cameras are ubiquitous during vacations, it really shouldn't be particularly hard to find a moment that you can get the whole family in the picture. If you'd like to get extra creative with this process, try and make the card somehow reflect the location where your photo is taken. For example: if you took a trip to a dude ranch, you could use that photo for a "Cowboy Christmas" themed card. 

Tis(n't) the season
Bring a little bit of holiday flare into the summertime photo to make your holiday card for this year slightly comical. Whether or not you're going on a vacation this summer, try and find time to get out to the beach or the pool on a hot day. Get the whole family in their swimsuits and near the water, but have everyone don a Santa hat to add a bit of holiday flair. If you have the time out at the beach, try building a sandman. Style it after your traditional snowman but build it entirely out of wet sand and take a photo with the family in front of it. People will appreciate the humor.

Frame it correctly
This tip might seem a bit obvious, but you want to ensure that the brilliance of your photo isn't undercut by poor presentation in the holiday card. The best way to avoid this is to take some time before winter approaches to ensure that you've found and ordered the right card. Pear Tree Greetings offers an array of options that will complement your photo and showcase your family. Plus, you'll save 20 percent on of your Christmas card order when you place it in July with the code "JULYXMAS". So, what are you waiting for?

Follow these tips for picking out your Christmas card photo outfits.

How to select outfits for family photos

If you're having Christmas card photos taken by a professional photographer (or even just a creative family friend), you've likely thought about how you're going to style the gang for the photo shoot. There's a distinctive art to choosing what to wear for family photos – try too hard and you run the risk of looking cheesy, but attempt to wing it and your pictures might look hastily put together. No worries! The pros have plenty of advice to share when it comes to selecting your Christmas card wardrobe. Follow these tips to pick out the perfect outfits:

1. Determine a color palette
Gone are the days of matching sweaters and boring khaki pants. It's much more stylish (and natural-looking) to give each member of the family his or her own outfit and look. Rather than picking the same hue for everyone, chose a color palette with up to five tones. They should be complementary, but they don't all have to match. Take, for example, a fall-themed palette of beige, brown, eggplant, burnt red and copper. Another beautiful and stylish color scheme could include robin's egg blue, sea foam green, lilac, purple and ivory.

2. Buy your clothing pieces
After you've decided upon a color scheme, pick out the major clothing pieces everyone will wear: shirts, pants, dresses and skirts. These items should fall within your color scheme and represent all of your hues equally. Don't be afraid to mix up the structure of your outfits, either: Dad might don a collared shirt and casual vest, while your teenage son could opt for a sweater and nice jeans.

Next, it's time to accessorize. Professional photographers love seeing well-adorned families, as accessories add style, texture and visual interest to your photos. Think scarves, layered tops, cardigans, belted dresses, etc. You certainly don't want to go overboard with accessories, but as long as your photo setting is relatively neutral – an outdoor panorama or your own living room, for example – your pieces will add to your overall look rather than taking away from it.

Another thing to keep in mind as you're purchasing outfits is that only one (or maybe two, if you have a large family) person should have a patterned shirt. One child wearing plaid can provide visual interest, but if every family member is doing so, your clothing can begin to overwhelm your photos. Choose one or two people to wear focal point pieces that coordinate with your color scheme, and chose solid-toned clothing for the other members of your family. (Side note: Avoid logos or branded shirts altogether. Trust us on this.)

3. Anticipate pairs
Photographer Kristen Duke recommends thinking about who is likely to stand next to whom during your family photo shoot. For example, mom and dad often naturally pair up. Sisters may be likely to do the same. Anticipate the natural pairings in your family and dress those people accordingly. You and your spouse, for example, won't want to wear the same color shirt, as you'll probably be standing next to each other during your photo shoot.