It happens every year – the angst over capturing and selecting “the perfect holiday card photo”. I send my cards to over 150 people as my annual big “hello” to family and friends, so I want the hero and supporting photos to count.
I have come to appreciate that there is not just one way to get card-worthy photos. To ensure I get something I am happy with, I actually pursue photos in many ways so I have lots to choose from. Here are my top 5 approaches. Yes, I admit to using all five.
1. Retail Portrait Studio
I have used JCPenney Portrait and Target Portrait Studios and have gotten good results. The prices are reasonable for you to get their CD with all the shots on a disk and image rights. The secret here is to make sure the kids are in a good mood (timing is everything), that you get a photographer who the kids click with and that you select a neutral background that can work with any card style. My background of choice is always a classic white sheet. The advantage with a retail portrait studio is that its easily scheduled and the rates are pretty reasonable.
2. Local Professional Photographer
I have been fortunate to find a few local photographers who I like. What they have in common is that they will provide me with the digital images on disk so I can do what I want with them. You can find them often just by asking around and viewing their work. They tend to cost a little more, but the advantages are you can choose them based on their style, their fit with your family and you can have them photograph in natural light (something retail studios don’t do).
If you’ve got a friend with a steady hand, you could luck out. Get a friend to snap away in natural light. The more they take, the better your chance of finding a winner – or at least giving you the raw material to crop and edit your way to a winner. The advantage here is certainly the price. If your friend has good chemistry with your family, that’s a bonus.
4. Santa Sitting
Visiting Santa is a magical tradition for many of us. Watching our kids interact with Santa is priceless. A holiday card that shows off that magic as the hero image or as an inside image can make the card. Most Santa portraits in malls now have the ability to provide you with the digital images for a fee. You can find the nearest Santa to you with this locator. The advantage to this type of portrait is it certainly says “Christmas” and is sure to put a smile on the face of everyone you share it with.
5. Do it Yourself
If you’re like me, you take photos all year long. My personal photo collection has now exceeded 40,000 images. Within my collection, there are certainly photos that are worth sharing. With a little planning or luck, they can be card-worthy too. The advantage of this approach is that they are likely to be the most authentic – with glimpses of your family as only you can see.