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5 Tips for Great DIY Holiday Card Photos

Get out the fancy sweaters. It’s time to take a family portrait for the annual holiday card.

Custom photo cards have become a popular tradition, filling our mailboxes with cheerful pics from old friends and distant relatives each year. But the race is on to capture a great shot in time to get your photo cards printed and mailed … before the new year isn’t new anymore.

Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to go to a fancy studio or hire a photographer.. We talked with Nikon Expert Kara O’Connor from Best Buy Store 433 in Rochester, New York, to get a few tips on how to make your own picture-perfect holiday card this year.

1) Get outfitted 

If you’re taking a family photo, you’ll want to coordinate your outfits without being too matchy-matchy. You don’t all need to wear the same color, but you’ll want to avoid colors that clash — and also keep in mind the color scheme of your location and card design.

“Stay away from patterns or super bright clothing,” Kara said. “It’s good to go with neutral tones or darker, deeper colors, such as navy blue.”

Also, choose outfits that are comfortable and reflect your family members’ personalities. If the kids haven’t worn a tie or dress all year, you might want to opt for something a bit more casual for your family photo.

2) Hold steady

A tripod can be your best friend for do-it-yourself family pics. It allows you set up the scene before gathering the family and ensures the camera will hold steady for blur-free shots.

Tripods are great for portraits or taking a group photo with you in it,” Kara said. “Just set the camera on the tripod and use a self-timer.”

You could also invest in a wireless remote that lets you to trigger the camera’s shutter while staying in front of the lens.

3) Use ‘portrait’ mode…. and snap away

Using “Portrait” mode tells your camera what type of shot you’re trying to get and allows it to automatically adjust the settings accordingly. That’s usually a better option than the “Auto” mode, which just adjusts the settings based on the lighting.

“If you have wiggly kids in the picture, you could select a faster shutter speed by using ‘Sports’ mode,” Kara said. “Some cameras even have a ‘Child’ mode.”

Even with those settings, having everyone with their eyes open and smiling at the camera — at the same time — can be near impossible. Fortunately, digital cameras give you the option to snap 100 photos now and then sort through them later to find the best of the bunch. (You might even capture a candid moment that’s better than some of the perfectly posed shots.)

4) Focus on faces, not places

Keep your photos nice and tight. After all, Aunt Edna wants to see your kids’ smiling faces, not your living room décor or the snow-covered trees in the background.

“Get in close to what you want the focus of the picture to be,” Kara said. “Moving closer to the person will definitely help out.”

You can also do some basic photo editing to crop your photos after the fact.

5) Have fun

Finally, don’t forget to have some fun along the way. You can even pull in some props, such as silly hats or candy canes, to make the photo shoot more fun and engaging. (Just resist the urge to go too crazy. You don’t want to distract from the people in the photo.)

“Try to get people to laugh,” Kara said. “It makes them more comfortable and relaxed, and it can help keep the picture from looking too posed.”


Want more ideas for how to get the perfect family photo? Check out the photography tips and tricks on BestBuy.com or sign up to attend the Holiday Card Photo workshop at select Best Buy stores on Nov. 5.