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What to do so your holiday card never sees the inside of a trash bin

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” – Elliott Erwitt

I am never the one good with words or expressions when explaining practically everything in my life. Ever since I was old enough to hold a camera, I have used my pictures as my voice. I have been taking pictures in my mind, in my heart, and for the last 20 years, in a camera. I love interacting with the world through my lens, and communicating to the world with my images. Life is beautiful, especially people, and capturing their beauty is a hard task to face for anyone.

When the holiday season rolls into town, we all want to try to create a fun memorable family portrait to send to our loved ones. Planning and organizing a portrait can be tedious, but sometimes you just need a couple good tips to get you started. I would love to share with you a couple tricks up my sleeve so this holiday season you can ensure your holiday card will end up on the fridge instead of the trash. I will have to start with my favorite tip, one that is consistent in all of my portrait sessions and that is to have fun!



  • Avoid black/gray or white: Stark colors such as black, gray or white can easily wash you out. In order to avoid family floating heads, opt for warm colors that flatter your complexion and complement one another.
  • Pick outfits/colors to match the environment: Nice dinner clothes are ideal for inside family photo. If you’re looking to shoot outside, make sure to dress appropriately for the season you’re in (but don’t bundle up too much).
  • Wear shoes you can walk in: If you have to wrangle kids, pets, spouse and the camera, high heels would be a bad choice. Avoid white sneakers; they always look terrible, unless you are in One Direction.


  • Make it personal: Couches in family rooms are always a great place to shoot — and fireplaces also make lovely backdrops.
  • Clean up: Don’t leave dirty socks in view. Tuck cords behind furniture.
  • Add a touch of decoration: Don’t let garlands overwhelm the photo, but consider including a few seasonal items in the shot (stockings hung from the mantel, or a menorah resting atop it).


  • Make it iconic: Pick a fun location that isn’t too far from where you live. Think the tree or ice rink in Rockefeller Center (if you happen to be a New Yorker) or a location with a memorable view (Mount Rushmore could make a nice backdrop for South Dakotans).
  • Or keep it simple: Outdoor parks and backyards are great to use. Find a nice spot with lots of plants, pathways and colorful flowers. Bridges and waterways are also always great backgrounds.

Photo credit: Tiffany Hagler-Geard/SheKnows
  • Have someone else take your picture: Whether you’re in Central Park or in your backyard, have a friend take the picture. It keeps the process moving faster (no running back and forth between your tripod and self-timer.)  Also, if you are in a public space, you don’t want to get caught in a park with a tripod without a park permit. (Yes those permits exist, and if you have a tripod taking pictures in a public park, an officer can make you stop and ticket you.)

Up next: Christmas photos with kids and pets

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