6 Tips to DIY Your Holiday Card Photo

It's the most wonderful time of the year! One of my favorite things about December is collecting the mail each day and pouring over the holiday cards that arrive from near and from far. My favorite are the cards with family pictures - so I always make sure that our family card has a current photo as well. Can I tell you a secret? We've never hired a professional photographer for any of our family photos. And, let me tell you, we've saved a bundle. Instead, we've opted to take our own photos. It's much less pressure as we can do it at our leisure, not having a set day or time. It also gives us instant access to the photos, so I can upload them and start designing a card right away.

Here are my top five tips for taking do-it-yourself (DIY) family photos...

1. Have your outfits selected.
When it's time to snap that photo, it's nice to have everyone already knowing what they're wearing (and having the colors compliment and not clash). I'm not an expert and certainly not a fashion blogger, but I did read somewhere that it's a good idea to start with one piece, and build the rest of the outfits from there. I purchased a new sweater for Parker (since neither Max nor I are growing and thus do not need new clothes, ha!). I then pulled clothing from my closet and Max's in the same colors from the sweater. I've also read that layers add dimension and interest to pictures, so I tried to incorporate those as well (though again, totally not a fashion blogger ;)

2. Front-load the little ones. 
Talk about the picture day with your children beforehand - what you'll be doing and what you expect of them. Bribe as needed :) Our little guy is easy, and the promise of his CD choice in the car (Adele) and his choice for lunch (Mexican) was enough to get his cooperation, but you know your kids best!

3. Assemble your supplies.
A tripod is key if you are DIYing. We set our SLR on a timer, and Max just clicks and runs, but you could also be fancy and use a wireless remote (which actually are quite inexpensive!).

4. Location, location, location.
When looking for a spot for the picture, think about light. You don't want direct sunlight as you'll have shadows and squinty faces. What you do want is diffused light. A cloudy day is perfect. Next best is a shady spot which also diffuses the sunlight. The "magic hours" (right after sunrise, right before sunset) also work but are much trickier as time is pressed and there is less overall light. Think also about background - the further away the backdrop, the more blown out it will be (the effect I love the most).

5. Strike a pose.
Peruse Pinterest beforehand and look for a family pose. One of the hardest things about DIYing your photo is not having a photographer to pose you/make you look your best. Think ahead about how you'll be sitting/standing. For us, I saw a sweet hand holding picture that I wanted to emulate.

5. Incorporate empty space.
Frame yourselves so that there is plenty of space around you. You'll appreciate the room to play once it's card time. For example, the photo below has ample space on the right side...

This makes it perfect for a card option like this one:

Tiny Prints makes the entire holiday card making process super easy - just upload your favorite photos from the day and choose one of their darling designs. Thank you to Tiny Prints for supplying our holiday cards this year! 


  1. I love this tips. I actually ask my photography each year to give us both a portrait and landscape photo with lots of space. They make for the best Christmas card options.

  2. Such a great idea to ask for both!! We took a portrait style mostly accidently and ended up using it for the final holiday card option that we'll be sending out :)

  3. Such great tips and your cards turns out beautifully!


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