Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pimp my Christmas card

Christmas cards are a great way to stay in touch with family and friends. They send a personal touch of love in the form of a letter and help you feel close to your loved ones even when they are miles away. I love to receive mine every Christmas and showcase them in my home. It makes it feel like a full house!!

Christmas cards have become very elaborate and expensive over the years. It is certainly not necessary to go over the top when making your Christmas cards. Just a sincere, simple letter or a family photo would do the trick. However, if you'd like to step your card up a notch, this is your blog post!

I'd like to introduce you to my friend Tanya. Tanya is a fellow military wife, an awesome mom of 4 and a gifted photographer. I hope you enjoy her interview and can benefit from her creative wisdom!

1. What makes a good Christmas card? I think a good Christmas card is one that really encompasses who your family is. Now that the trend is to send family photos, I don't think it's as important to get the "perfect" shot as it is to showcase how everyone has changed over the years and how their personalities come through. I admit that I prefer the image that makes us all look our best, but the reality is that's not really us. So embrace the picture where no one is looking at the camera, sitting still, or even crying. Everyone still loves, appreciates (and understands) this phase and those are truly what our memories are made of.

Photo credit: Mandy Davis Photography, Oklahoma City, OK

2. What basic photography tips common people with not much photography knowledge should one have in mind when taking their Christmas picture? Manual mode is really your friend! It gives you complete control over your image instead of trusting the camera to do it all for you. The exposure triangle is a good tool to keep in mind when using this mode. Aperture, shutter speed and ISO work together to give you those amazing shots. I think it is important to get it right in the camera because you waste your time fixing things in post production (editing) that you wouldn't have to do if your shot is the way you wanted to start with.

To get that blurry background that enables us to pinpoint our focus on the subject, you need to either lower your aperture (1.2-4.0/f), or stand back far enough to zoom into your subject. The aperture is like the pupil of your eye. The more you open it up, the more light it lets in, which bring us to shutter speed. If your environment is dark, you've got to get as much light as possible to the camera sensor. Shooting below 1/60 of a second isn't advised because your manual breathing and body movement can make the image blurry. If your camera tells you something less than 1/60 then adjust your ISO! Back in the days of film, 400 speed was the everything film. 800 for action, 1600 for dark. Now digital cameras can go extremely high. (I looked up one that goes 4,000,000!). Mine goes to 25,600 which means it can capture light that my eye can not even see. That also means it's going to be a "grainy" image because the camera fills in for what it can't see.

That's the quick down and dirty for the 3 but experiment with different settings in your camera. If it is too dark or too light keep adjusting to see how the images change. Your light meter is inside your viewfinder and it tells you when you are over or under exposing an image. It's a good place to start when experimenting.

Side note: I like my images a little lighter, so I have my light meter pre-programmed to shoot 2 stops above the center.

3. Are coordinated outfits important? Coordinated outfits are definitely important! You want your friends and family to notice you and your family, not your distracting outfits. You don't have to go out and buy new clothes for pictures either. Just utilize a color wheel. This website is for decorating, but it breaks down why our eyes are drawn to certain colors and depending on the look you want, can help you decide if you want colors that sit next to each other for a harmonious look, or colors opposite for a bolder look.


Overall, you just don't want to wear anything such as loud patterns that's fighting with something like stripes. I prefer the KISS principle when picking something out. Keep it simple. That doesn't mean everyone wears the same color ( as I'm sure you've seen pictures with everyone in white shirts and Khaki pants), but it does mean lay out what to wear with everyone else's clothes to make sure they are cohesive.

Photo credit:  Lisa J. Holloway, Las Vegas, NV

4. What are some posing ideas you recommend trying for a stunning picture? Posing is a loaded question that doesn't have a simple answer. It really depends on how many people are going to be in the photo, what the ages are, if you are in a studio or outside, etc. There are a few important points that will help guide you in the right direction though.

  • Spacing: get everyone in the party to squeeze together. Empty spaces make them look distant and not part of the group.
  • Alignment: all faces shouldn't be at the same level (boring) but if you've got some who are very tall, or very short, try to find a way to balance that out.
  • Mix it up: if two people are the same height, wearing the same color, etc, move them around in the group to make it more visually appealing. Also look at the patterns and utilize them as they can add interest to your imagine.

5. What are some ways in which I can create my own Christmas cards and make them look good without breaking the bank? These days, several websites give you the ability to create your own Christmas cards by picking a design you like and uploading your image. I just saw Snapfish offering 70% off of cards over Thanksgiving weekend (so some designs were as low as .30 a card). There are also several online sites, such as ($5 a month with a coupon and unlimited downloads of their stuff) or (which offered 60% off their stuff over the weekend), that have already created templates for you to download.

6. Where would you recommend ordering "premium"(nicer) Christmas cards from? If you are in the market to splurge a little and go for high end, one place that offers top notch quality work is They offer beautiful designs that are also fully customizable.

Thank you so much, Tanya, for sharing all these wonderful tips with us!

Friends, have fun making your Christmas cards and displaying the ones you receive from family and friends!

Here are some ideas:


                      Until next Thursday...  Stay warm!



Pathy said...

So cool info, I'll get those ideas in practice for this chrismas card, thank Angelito!

Pathy said...

Cool info! I'll get those ideas in practice for the family Chrismas card this year, thanks Angelito!

Angelica said...

Me alegro de que te ayude, Pathy! Besos! I'm glad you find this info helpful, Pathy! Kisses!

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

I love the display ideas!!!

Angelica said...

Thanks, friend! Which one are you going to try in your home?

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Thinking the ribbon on the cabinet door. I have some new ribbon I got. I like the Christmas tree idea but I just don't have a free wall.

Angelica said...

That is what I'm doing at home. Easier to do!