DIY Holiday Card Photos

This post is in partnership with Minted.

DIY Holiday Card Photos

Every year the holidays roll around, and every year as a professional photographer I help everyone else with their holiday card photos before actually attempting my own. This year with the help of Minted, I was determined to stay ahead of the curve.

Last week I shared what to wear for holiday photos, and this week I’m sharing how to DIY holiday card photos. The process is similar to my post about how to take self portraits, with some other tips that apply specifically to holiday card photos.

Choose your holiday card

First off, you’ll need to browse holiday cards and pick some favorites. The one I chose was a horizontal orientation with some writing toward the bottom so I kept that in mind for our photos. If yours is vertical or square, or has a different design over it you’ll need to keep that in mind too.

Use the right equipment

As with taking self portraits, you don’t need a lot of equipment to take your own holiday photos, and you can even get by without anything special, but the following can be super helpful:

Camera – One capable of using a self-timer or remote. If you need help, you can read my gear post here.
Tripod – A sturdy tripod to hold your camera (mine is similar to this), or flat and level table or safe place to set your camera.
Remote – A remote or self timer on your camera. A remote is preferred because it allows you to fine tune the focusing for the photo. I use this one by Canon.

My Favorite Gear:

Location is everything

You will want to find a location that has indirect and natural light, or a space that is indirectly bright. This means that it is filled with bright light, but not direct sun or overhead lights. Good places indoors are near large windows when the sun isn’t shining directly into them, or a garage door or side of house that is not in direct sunlight. If you need to, you can wait until about an hour before sunset (golden hour) to take photos outside. For inside photos, I find that closer to noon is better because there is less directional light when the sun is directly overhead. For basic lighting and other tips, read this post.

Set up and posing

Once you have your gear and location picked out, you’ll want to set up your camera. Have everyone sit or stand loosely in the pose you’d like, and take a minute to check your lighting and position the camera properly. This is where keeping your favorite cards in mind comes in handy. The most common position to set your camera up in is at eye level height on your tripod, but you can adjust it any way you’d like. If you are using the self-timer option, you will need to set your focus ahead of time. If you’re taking the photo as a group, focus on someone who is already in the photo, and be sure to leave room for yourself to join in.

As far as posing goes, it helps greatly if you are shooting at a lower aperture to be sure that all of your faces are on the same plane, or in line with each other so they are roughly the same distance from the camera. Sometimes if someone’s face is as little as 6″ too far forward or back it will cause their face to be out of focus.

Photograph your heart out

Take as many photos as you need, keeping in mind that completely posed photos are not always the best. I tried to take a few posed, and gave direction to my family, like looking in different areas or having my little one jump on the couch. Keep in mind that your family may need breaks, snacks, or lots of bribes to get the photo that you want.

Order your cards

Now the fun part, order your cards! We’ve used Minted over the last few years for holidays, parties, and home decor goodies with lots of success. Here are our cards for this year:

DIY Holiday Card Photos

Shop Holiday Cards:

Have you taken your own holiday photos before? Do you have any tips to share?

This post was in partnership with Minted in exchange for sponsoring our holiday cards this year. Thank you so much for helping support the brands that make life here a little sweeter. I’m also thankful that I was able to actually get my cards done on time.

12 thoughts on “DIY Holiday Card Photos

  1. Great tips, Jess! I don’t own a tripod, but understand how completely useful it is for this kind of self family portrait. We’ve sat the cameras on trash cans, tables, etc. but nothing ever gives you the peace of mind knowing it’s not gonna topple off , like using a real tripod. I’ve never printed with Minted so I’ll definitely keep them in mind. My family def. needs a new Christmas card photo this year.

  2. We like the idea of doing our own cards. My wife is a blogger too and has seriously upgraded her camera so that we could now do our own portrait too. Thank you for the great tips.

  3. We use Minted,too! This is a great setup you have for your holiday cards. We always take our own photos and usually do it in front of the tree each year. This year we did it in front of new plank wall we made and we all wore camo to celebrate the end of hunting season. I like the black and white effect on cards, maybe next time I order from Minted I will try that out.

  4. I love that you make your own. One day we will do this. I need to get a better camera. It’s just not in the budget right now.

    The cards are so cute. Merry Christmas to you all. You’ve inspired me.

  5. I have yet to make my own holiday cards though I tend to be on the creative side and have made cards in the past. Ironically never a holiday one though. This sounds like a fun idea.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your tips to make your own holiday cards! I am horrible at getting things planned to take a holiday photo. I still haven’t managed to take a photo for our card this year and at this point I’m not sure if I will get it done before Christmas.

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