Completing the holiday season wouldn’t feel right without the arrival of numerous festive cards from friends, family, and occasionally, individuals you may not precisely recall. The most delightful aspect of sending and receiving holiday cards is sharing the festive spirit with those we hold dear.

It serves as a chance to catch up with friends and family who may not be part of our regular social circles, fostering a sense of connection even amid the chaotic hustle and bustle of the season. While it’s genuinely enjoyable, we often succumb to unnecessary stress. To make things more manageable this year, here are five tips to ensure a fantastic holiday family photo to circulate to your loved ones.


1) Select the Appropriate Setting/Backdrop

Simplicity plays a crucial role in selecting a backdrop. Opting for outdoor family photos offers a captivating environment with optimal lighting if executed thoughtfully. Ideal times are mornings and evenings, providing the best natural light. Steer clear of direct sunlight to prevent harsh shadows on your family’s faces; cloudy days surprisingly offer excellent photo conditions. Streamline your background, and if using multicolored Christmas tree lights, ensure they gently fade. Select a setting that exudes a seasonal vibe, such as a rustic farm, green space, beach, or any location boasting natural seasonal colors. This creates a festive portrait, but it’s important not to overcomplicate the setting—keep it simple.

Consider charming backdrops like the side of a barn at a Christmas tree farm or trees in the background (ensure branches don’t appear atop heads in the viewfinder). Picture a tree backdrop with everyone seated on a pickup truck’s tailgate for a more elaborate touch.


2) Keep it Fun Without Being Cheesy

Unsurprisingly, snapping family photos often ranks among the top five most dreaded holiday tasks for many people. However, the experience can significantly improve if you inject some fun into it. Play some music to lighten the atmosphere, and perhaps incorporate holiday treats—any special pick-me-up that energizes your family. By making it an enjoyable activity rather than a chore, you’ll likely have a much better photo, ensuring this year’s card is the most memorable yet. A holiday photo captures a moment and serves as a cherished memory.

Avoid clichéd shots like pets adorned with holiday lights, dad dressed as the Grinch, or playful ski-pole props, as these can come off as too contrived.


3) Dress Appropriately

Harmonize your outfits in terms of color. For instance, if one family member is sporting red plaid, ensure that others dress in either red or a complementary hue. Optimal choices for holiday photos include solid colors like white, red, green, gold, and black. In a group of four, limit the use of patterns or plaid to just one person. The era of overly matchy-matchy family photos is behind us. Embrace variety and consider introducing textures, such as shearling jackets or polar fleece, for added visual interest.

Rigidity in coordination can appear unnatural and less visually appealing. Instead of rigid guidelines, provide your crew with a general color scheme, focusing on seasonal tones to impart a warm and inviting feel to your holiday cards.


4) Don’t Try Posing Too Hard

Avoid the formal and overly posed portraits reminiscent of the past. In a large family gathering, ensure that everyone faces the camera and pays attention to positioning hands, arms, and legs. Actions like raising an arm or waving can be distracting and obstruct another person’s face in the photo. Capturing a semi-composed group picture where everyone is looking and there are no universally closed eyes can be challenging enough.

Consider incorporating candid shots of your family engaged in activities or interacting with each other. This approach results in a more family-oriented photograph and adds greater interest to the holiday card compared to a traditional pose. While achieving this might be more challenging with larger families, the outcome is well worth the effort.


5) Hire AND TRUST a Professional

It’s too stressful to try to create your holiday photos – too much to think about, too much to coordinate, and too much to pay attention to. Professional photographers keep you and the family on track while providing insights and advice from years of photoshoots like yours! Trust them; they know what they’re doing!

Dani Weiss has over 34 years under her belt as a professional photographer. She carries a unique skill set for capturing the most precious moments at bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, birthdays, parties, holiday photos, and corporate events.