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10 Tips for a Successful Holiday Photo Shoot

Snap the most spectacular photo for your holiday card this year with these tips from Tiny Prints' photography and design experts.


Tip 1: Choose a neutral background.

holiday, Christmas and new years photocard with peace love and joy five 5 pictures merry Christmas square card red and green

Uncluttered locations—like walls, fences and parks—are the best choice because they won’t distract from your holiday card design. If you go for an outdoor setting, make sure to include lots of sky, grass, or pavement as these make a great canvas for design overlays on the card.

If you’re indoors, avoid cluttered backdrops and excessive furniture/objects in the background. When taking photos by the Christmas tree, make sure everyone is far enough in front of it so the camera focuses on their faces, not the tree.

If you like cards with lighter text and design overlays, take your photo on a darker background. Lighter backgrounds work best for dark text and design overlays.

Tip 2: Consider a seasonal setting.

laser die cut red 5 five photo Christmas card that says joy love & laughter red photo Christmas card with kids in the woods and deer

Want a super seasonal feel? Try locations like tree farms or fields of snow. Just make sure the location adds to, and does not distract from, the mood or theme of your shoot.

Tip 3: Go casual with a picture at home.

gold new years photo card with chevron background black merry Christmas card with photo and grey back with snowflakes

If you have kids and/or pets, in-home shoots are often the easiest option. Your photo subjects are at ease, which makes for a great, natural shot. Just make sure your background is as neutral and uncluttered as possible.


Tip 4: Look for consistent lighting that’s not too bright.

black and ivory make it merry multiple photos Christmas card with black back and gold and silver snowflakes black and gold photo merry Christmas card with black and white background

Morning and late afternoon (right before dusk) are great times for outdoor photo shoots. Natural light is preferred, but avoid direct sunlight. Shade is the best option, but keep an eye out for shadows so your photos don’t look patchy. Don’t be afraid to try the flash even if it’s bright outside. Try to keep backgrounds consistent across photos and shoots.

If you’re taking photos inside, choose a bright area of the house—window light can be really beautiful. Turn off other light sources, such as overhead lights, which can be less flattering and cast a color to the photos.

Tiny Tip: Before your photo shoot, browse our 2015 holiday collection so you can find a design and use the sample photography as inspiration. Look out for text placement and design overlays so you can plan your photo composition accordingly. Remember that light text looks best on a dark photo background and vice versa.


Tip 5: Dress in neutral colors and patterns.

photo christmas card with merry chistmas and white letters with family in park three sisters in field on joy and love photo Christmas holiday card

Choose neutral-colored clothing to avoid clashing with your holiday card design or distracting from your photo subjects. Try coordinating your outfits without matching perfectly, to capture everyone’s individuality.

Tip 6: Show your personal style.

dark red peace and joy Christmas holiday card with couple embracing red snowflakes joy Christmas holiday card with mom dad and baby white snowflakes on tan burlap 3 three photo merry Christmas card black and gold floral merry Christmas card with three photos

Show your personal style by wearing outfits that complement your holiday card design. For example, a traditional card design might look great with a classic flannel shirt.


Tip 7: Zoom in, out, up and down.

gold and yellow love and happiness holiday card with 5 five photos blue calm and always bright holiday photo card with 5 five photos

Taking photos with different orientations gives you the most flexibility with holiday card designs. Take photos that are horizontal and vertical (multi-photo cards often have both orientations) and capture as many zoomed out shots as possible so you can crop in and use them for a variety of photo boxes. (Tiny Prints offers free back of card photos and messaging, too). Don’t forget to take a few close-ups as well.

Tip 8: Mix up who’s in each shot.

green chevron print love and good times holiday card with 5 five photos red Christmas card with three photos and white leaves

If you’re doing a family shoot, get shots of each child individually, parents together, parents with each child etc. This way, if the perfect full family shot doesn’t happen, you have a portfolio of alternatives to create a beautiful multi-photo collage card.

Tip 9: Keep your models happy and smiling!

If you’re taking pictures of the kids or pets, it’s helpful to have someone engage with them from behind the camera. Consider props that will focus their attention on the camera. Also, candid shots taken between poses can turn out to be holiday card gold. If you’re hiring a photographer, make sure he/she understands what kind of shot you’re looking for—i.e. candid vs. posed—and can bring that out from your whole family.

Tip 10: Be playful with props.

Consider incorporating props (eg. Santa hats on the bride and groom or snowballs outside) but make sure props don’t create too much distraction. Play some fun music in the background to make things festive.


Once you have your photo, you’ll want to find the design that really brings your holiday card to life and makes it spectacular. Here are some helpful tips from Tiny Prints’ design experts:

Use Tiny Prints’ "My Photo" tool to see your photo in every design.

Try our "My Photo" tool to instantly see your photo in ALL of our Tiny Prints designs. (If your favorite photo clashes with your favorite design or the design is very colorful, try changing the photo to black and white or sepia and go for an artistic look.)

Upload the original high-resolution image.

You will get the most stunning results using a high resolution image. Avoid using images from social media, smartphones as they are often downsized and lower quality.

Play around with sizing.

Many of our designs come with different color and orientation options. Try out all the options to see what looks best (and don’t forget to zoom in or out for cropping options).

Multi-photo card tips.

For a standout and stylish card, avoid mixing shoots - technique and styling differences will only be exaggerated. Mixing orientations and size (full body vs head shots) works well - try to avoid placing too many head shots in your card.

Use Tiny Prints’ design services

Our team of design and etiquette experts can help retouch and crop photos, adjust design elements and proofread your message to make sure everything looks flawless. Simply check the "Designer Review" option when checking out and one of our designers will contact you with next steps.

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