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5 tips for taking family Christmas photos

Sarah Walker Caron is an award winning journalist, freelance writer and editor. She lives a happy life in Maine with her two children, where they love to hike, visit the beaches and have lots of silly fun. Check out her food blog at Sara...

Christmas photo fun

Have you selected the Christmas outfits yet? Are you going with all red this year for the family? Or perhaps you've taken an alternative approach and are going with pale mint green and white. Whatever the case, if you want your Christmas photos to be merry, here are a few tips from the experts.

Christmas photo fun

The ugly Christmas sweater. It's ubiquitous, and captured in so many Christmas photos. Is that really how you want to remember the holidays? A sea of sweaters depicting candy canes, skiing bears in scarves and twinkling trees? Probably not.

1. Wear similar tones

If you are looking for a more pulled together image, Carson Kressley of "Queer Eye" fame suggests wearing similar tones.

"Could be all red and black and white, or all navy. If a person has a touch of red in the shot it would draw all the attention to them," Kressley said, who is also star of Lifetime's How to Look Good Naked and is working with Nikon on an online video series at

But matching tones aren't the only important factor in a good Christmas photo.

2. Be aware of background

People are important in Christmas photos, but so is the background, says Angie Garbot, owner of Photos by Garbot.

"Take a look at what's on the table, floor, etc. in front of the group - often a perfectly lovely group photo is blemished by wadded up napkins, half-eaten food, garbage/scraps of wrapping paper strewn about in the foreground. Pick it up a bit or move the photographer's angle to get a clean shot," Garbot said.

Kressley agrees and says that paying attention to the details is important.

"Look at everyone before you shoot. Make sure their hair looks good, that there's no weird bunching in the outfit. All those details make for a great photograph," Kressley said.

3. Be natural

While it might be natural for you to take photos standing, you will catch better shots when you are at the level of your subjects. Garbot says this is particularly important when taking photos of children.

"While this is a natural place from which an adult points and clicks, it almost always renders a funky-looking image with either tops of heads or kids straining their heads and necks to look up. Get down on the floor with them, play with them and get photos at their eye level - you'll be pleased with the results," Garbot said.

Also, she says that to keep group shots relaxed, let kids sit or be held. Garbot says that creates a more relaxed shot."Trying to get small children to look comfortable sitting up straight or standing in front of adults usually doesn't work (especially with the excitement of the holidays going on!) - let them sit on chairs, sofas, the laps of friends and family...the photo will be warmer and better at capturing the personalities than if you choose a formal, "too-posed" look," Garbot said.

4. Connect with the camera

For that special shot to adorn last minute holiday cards, you should make sure the people in the photo connect with the camera, Kressley says.

"Eye contact is really important. If this is a holiday card that you're sending to people, you want it to feel like you're looking right at them. Always look directly at the camera with a big smile," Kressley said.

5. Beyond the Christmas card

Holiday photos aren't just for cards. They can also make great, and economical gifts. Print out a special photo in a 5x7 format, and purchase an inexpensive 8x10 frame and a white mat. Your children can even use crayons or markers to leave a special holiday message for the recipient on the mat.

Also, Garbot suggests that photo taking is a good way for neighbors to help each other this season. "As an economic way to both give and receive this year, offer to take a neighbor's family photo with their camera in exchange for them taking yours," Garbot said.

Read more about getting the best holiday photos:

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