Taking and making Christmas photos can be a frustrating task, especially when it involves kids. This year our family opted to take our own Christmas photos. And on a whim, I figured I’d design our card too. Here are some tips if you attempt to take and make your own Christmas photos with kids.
Plan Your Christmas Photos Ahead of Time
I am not a planner. In the last few months, I was toying with the idea of attempting to take our Christmas photos this year. My camera took decent photos and I was okay at taking pictures on it. I kept going back and forth with the idea. Then boom one Saturday evening it was decided. In the morning I would get up and take our family’s photo.
Did I plan outfits the night before? No.
Make sure the camera was charged and ready? Nope.
Set up the tripod for some test photo spots? No sirree.
I just winged it and ran around like a chicken without a head the morning of. In hindsight, I recommend planning your outfits out beforehand. Babies and pregnant ladies do not like to change clothes very much. Also charging your camera battery beforehand will be helpful. The less stress involved with the picture taking the better.
Be Flexible and Calm
Initially, I was going to take photos in our yard somewhere. Five minutes into getting everyone dressed for the pictures it began pouring rain nonstop. Drake was busy receiving phone calls while he got dressed. Meanwhile, the kids were wrestling each other on the couch. I felt myself beginning to get worked up, but I reminded myself that we are taking these photos to celebrate the joy of this season with our friends and family. Instead I remained calm.
We opted to use some white curtains in our living room for the backdrop. Everyone eventually got dressed. I even had a chance to put on a bit of makeup. Everything was just fine.
As you know, doing anything with kids requires flexibility. So just laugh off the craziness of trying to wrangle the whole family into a decent photo and remain calm. Your demeanor will come through in the photos and especially in your children’s faces.
Use a Remote
The Canon Rebel T6i I used has the capability to connect to a smartphone app and allows you to use your cell phone as a remote. This feature made taking photos ten times easier by allowing us to stay in one spot and snap a bunch of pictures without running back and forth trying to start a timer.
The downside to using my phone as the remote was having my finger on the screen. It was challenging to hold my big one year old boy while clicking the screen remote at the same time. This also made for an awkward arm placement before photo editing. I am uncertain if you can use a timer while using the phone remote, but if you have time look into that too.
Get Stability with a Tripod
If you do not have a tripod I recommend getting one for your Christmas photos. You can find a tripod for under $20 here. The tripod we used helped our photos look more professional because it kept the camera stable. Using the tripod also helped me to better frame the photos, since the camera would not be moving I could see what order looked best with our outfits and different sizes of humans.
You might also consider borrowing a tripod from a friend. I would be happy to loan out that piece of camera equipment to almost anyone because it is cheap, not easy to break, and compatible with most cameras. If you can, use a tripod for your photos.
Keep it Simple
Look online at different Christmas photos, which ones stand out the most? To me the simple images of families really pop, they look professional and beautiful. Some of the very staged and posed photos are cutesy, but impractical, especially for a DIY photo shoot. The simpler your photo is the more versatile too. You could even print out a larger size to hang in your living room or send to grandma for Christmas if they turn out nice.
We opted to use some white curtains we had on hand for a backdrop and a white throw blanket laid on our living room floor. There were no props involved except for a little faux Christmas tree that I threw in one of the shots I took of just the children. Keep your shoot free of props and extra decor to make it easier to get a clean shot of the whole family.
Have Fun With Your Christmas Photos
The best shots we got during our home photoshoot were off the cuff. Drake told everyone to squish their faces together and that created genuine smiles from all of us. Having fun while taking your photos will produce better photos than trying to force smiles out of your family. My favorite shot of the whole morning was just a random snapshot I took of the kids. I did not think we would even use it, but it’s perfect for our card (see at the end of the post).
Design Your Card Using Canva
Initially I was going to use a company with pre-made beautiful cards so I would just insert the photos I took. However; I could not bring myself to pay a dollar or more for each card (no judgement if that’s you, I wish I was that fancy). Instead, I opted to design the card myself through Canva. I am so glad I did.
Using Canva was such a simple way to get all the elements I wanted for our Christmas card. I personally pay for the application. However; they offer a 30-day free trial which is more than enough time to design a Christmas card.
Here are the steps I used in Canva:
First, choose the sizing of the card. I chose 5×7 inches. Then upload the photo or photos you want to use. Edit the background color, Canva keeps track of the colors in your photo so you could opt to use a color that is already in the photo for a more cohesive look. Add any text you want. Then you can decorate using the elements tab. You can search for practically anything and it will show you different icons you can use. Go ahead and click the filter button to make sure Canva only shows the free options in the elements tab (picture below).
I only have two regrets when it comes to making my Christmas card in Canva. Choosing a font that was challenging to read and not leaving a bigger margin around my card.
I thought surely the font I chose would be clearer in person, it wasn’t. Yes Drake, you were right. Pick a font that is legible, even if it is not as cute.
Also, remember to leave extra room around the border of your card. I did not put the text all the way to the edge, but I got pretty close (Merry Christmas got topped off a little). Give yourself a good amount of border room to ensure your printer does not cut off the tops of any words…or heads.
Save Time & Money By Printing at Costco
For our Christmas photos, I printed at Costco. I chose the 5×7 size and lustre finish. I recommend this finish because your cards will be handled and it prevents fingerprints. It also seems to be more on-trend to have matte Christmas photos.
Also make sure you have auto-correct set to off, it will override your edits and change the look of your photos if you have it on. You can set your account settings to have auto-correct always shut off so you never have to worry about Costco overriding your edits in the future too.
Here are the benefits of printing with Costco Photo Center. They are ready for pick up the next day. You can send them to a Costco near you (as long as they have a photo center). Save big money on printing. I paid about $60 for 100 photos which was the best price I found even when using promo codes on other websites. Plus, (not sure if this works at all the Costcos or if the workers are all this nice) my photo center even gave me free envelopes when I asked to purchase some. Wins all around.
Christmas Photos Should Be a Joy
Christmas photos are meant to bring joy during the Christmas season. Your family and friends won’t care if you got the best shot or if all your kids are smiling. Enjoy this time of taking pictures with your family. If the shots come out looking a little silly, it will serve as a memory to look back on and laugh about.
You got this!
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How do you do Christmas photos?
Do you take and send them out? Leave your advice in the comments below.