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How to capture the perfect Christmas card photo

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Create personalized photo Christmas cards

Customized Christmas cards are a fabulous way to share season's greetings with all of your family and friends. Even if you are skipping the pro photographer and taking pictures yourself, you can capture the perfect photo.

You can head to a local photo studio to get your family Christmas photos taken, or shoot the pictures yourself to create personalized photo Christmas cards.

Keep the card style in mind

Before you start clicking away, keep in mind the Christmas card style you are going to use. Will it be a basic two-fold card with the photo on the front, postcard style with several poses featured, or some other card style? Many online retailers such as Mixbook, Shutterfly and Vistaprint offer beautiful holiday card options. You simply upload your photos online, customize your card and place your order. If you aren't going to print your own cards at home, check out a few card websites to get an idea about your options.

Choose a location

A posed photo in front of the Christmas tree or fireplace is a common choice. However, consider getting a little more creative. Take a series of candid shots of your kids doing festive activities, such as decorating the tree, building a snowman or baking cookies. Candid photographs can better depict the personalities and relationships among your children.

Clever and creative family photo tips >>

Adjust your camera settings

Even an amateur photographer can capture beautiful pictures. If you are using a DSLR camera, get familiar with your camera's settings. Try to use as much natural light as possible. Experiment with the shutter speed (especially important for action shots), as well as the aperture setting and ISO level.

The aperture setting controls the area over which light can pass through your camera lens and determines a photo's depth of field. To get a photo with a softly blurred background with focus on your subject, select the highest aperture (smallest f number) your lens has. The ISO level determines how sensitive the camera is to incoming light. A low ISO level results in low image noise or film grain.

Find the best beginning DSLR cameras for moms >>

Coordinate but don't match

You don't need to dress your entire family in matching outfits for your Christmas card photo. Instead, have everyone wear clothing in coordinating colors or similar tones. Also consider the color of the background you are using. You don't want a blue shirt to blend into the blue sky.

Double-check the background

Though you want your child's hair and clothing to be just right, don't forget about the background. A stray piece of trash, an electrical cord or any other out-of-place object can ruin the perfect Christmas card photo. Check and double-check to make sure there's nothing in the background that is going to blemish your shot.

Take plenty of shots

To get the perfect Christmas card photo, take as many shots as possible. Everything is digital these days, so you don't have to worry about wasting film. Zoom in and take close-ups and zoom out for panoramic shots. Snap on different lenses, if you have them, for different looks. Try shooting from various angles. Get down low with your kids or experiment with angles from up above. The more pictures you take, the more choices you will have when picking the perfect picture.

More about the holidays

Holiday photo op: Dressing your kids for Christmas morning
Christmas craft: Homemade Christmas cards

Ideas for your own Elf on the Shelf

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