How to Take the Perfect Holiday Card Photo

Tips From a Professional Photographer

Updated 12/15/18

Elopement Photography

We totally get it if you and your fiancé have been putting off selecting a holiday card photo—especially if it's your first. Is it just us, or does it seem that every year holiday cards get more beautiful? Long gone are the days of using any old snapshot as the feature on your cards, and here to stay are professionally-curated images of smiling faces and candids amongst gorgeous backdrops. If you’re stressing about what to feature on your card—or you missed the boat this year and want to be prepared for next—Brides spoke with photographer Jainé Kershner of Brklyn View Photography for her expert tips on how to take the perfect holiday card photo.

Timing

Shannen Natasha Weddings

Like most things in life, timing is everything, and while it may be a bit late in the game for a professional shoot (though many photographers take last-minute cancellations and have quick turnarounds with editing!), planning ahead is necessary. Kershner says, “If you want to capture the change of seasons for your holiday photos, you’ll want to plan your session between the end of October and the middle of November, depending on where you live.” If capturing the foliage isn't on your must-have list, she suggests planning any outdoor sessions, “either early in the morning or later toward sunset to capture the prettiest light of the day!”

If you waited until the last minute, Kershner warns that hiring a professional could be tough. “Most photographers have already booked their holiday sessions well in advance,” she warns. Book sometime in September to be safe. But all is not lost! Take heed of the following tips and ask a friend to help out with either a high-quality camera or even just your iPhone. Plus, you can always mail New Year's cards instead!

What to Wear

Forever Photography

Unless you’re planning a silly shoot with matching pajamas, Kershner suggests wearing “coordinating colors and hues that aren't too matchy-matchy." She explains, "You want to look put together but not like an advertisement."

As for what to avoid? She says, “Stay away from thin stripes and small checks and logos on your clothes that will date you or add unnecessary bulk.”

Selecting Your Setting

Stocksy

Reflecting on the current time of year or selecting a setting that's personal—like a location specific to where you live, such as the ocean, shoreline, city or park—all make for perfect photo backdrops. For her clients, Kershner says, “I will usually scout a spot in a central location (ie. a park in New York City) and have everyone meet me there during the best time of day.”

Finding the Right Photographer

Wild Heart Visuals

Whatever you do, don’t just book based on an ad you see or off of a single personal recommendation. “The best advice I can give is to do your homework and research the type of photography you like online and on Instagram,” Kershner says. She suggests asking friends for recommendations of anyone who takes great photos and who has a good, reliable, and trustworthy reputation. “You want to make sure you are getting great customer service along with your photography!” she notes.

Invest in the Final Product

Photo by Henry Tieu

Discount websites and bargain deals seem to be everywhere this season, but Kershner warns listening to the old saying: you get what you pay for. "If you buy cheap prints, they will look cheap," she says. Instead, she recommends going with your photographer's preferred printers. "A local pharmacy or bulk store printer is not going to be worth it in the end. The colors, paper, and actual printers are not calibrated and cared for like a true printing lab would be,” Kershner explains.

Once you receive them, simply slap on a stamp and get ready to spread holiday cheer!

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