Tonje Lilleås

Christmas Card Photography – Blogmas Day 2

The first thing I thought about when getting my first proper camera was photographing images for our Christmas cards. And in this post I give you a trip down memory lane through our Christmas cards, and give you five tips on Christmas Card Photography.

The first Christmas card

Now maybe you thought I was going to start off by telling you where the tradition of sending Christmas cards originates from. The title sure suggests it. However I’m talking about the first Christmas card I made for us, us being my wife and I.

We waited for the first snow, as I wanted to shoot an outdoorsy and cozy image of us rosting marshmallows by the bonfire. Well, the first snow didn’t happen in time for us to both order the prints, get the cards delivered and send them off to people in time for Christmas.

No snow didn’t stop us though. We headed out into the forest, made a fire, sat down on our reindeer pelts and got the shot. Wearing our knitted jumpers and ginormous winter hats and a great big smile. It doesn’t get much more cliche than that for a Christmas card image. Or it does if you add snow, but we’re not that powerful and don’t know how to do magic yet. We had made our first Christmas card though, people seemed to like it, and we felt a little bit more like grown ups.

The next step – adding kids

We made a few more Christmas cards over the next few years, all in the same style of Christmas cliches. I particularly fancy the card of us in our new home in Tynset, where we rearranged the whole living room to make sure we got the image. It still wasn’t a great image though, but we had fun making it.

Then we entered the new era; we had kids. Like I mentioned last year personalized Christmas cards really are all about bragging about your family. Shamelessly so. And we were no exception.

We’ve had photoshoots in a living room full of sheep pelts, photographed Big Brother while swimming under water with a Santas hat on and arranged a photoshoot in the nearby forest of Big Brother and Baby Boy in color coordinated outfits. A few years we’ve «just» used images from the year that has passed since our last Christmas card. Carefully selected off course. Point is; we’ve made an effort.

A new era

And because we’ve made such an effort with our cards, it’s a bit weird for me to find myself in a position where I’m not making Christmas cards this year. Just last year I stated that I would keep it going because I loved Christmas cards and what they represented. And still we decided not to make one this year. Not because we didn’t want to greet our loved ones and acquaintances this year, but because we want to try something new. 

This year I’ve made a different and more time consuming greeting for all who are interested; blogmas. I’m going to share a post on the blog every day. My goal is to do what I can to help spread a little Christmas joy in a year that’s been very different to all of us. And for our closest family I’ve made a book. So no cards, but blogmas and books. I hope you’re all fine with it;) Now on to a few tips on Christmas Card Photography.

Christmas Card Photography – a few tips to help you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made

I figured you don’t need to make the same mistakes I’ve made, and thus I want to share a few tips on how you can make sure your Christmas Card images is on point.

  1. You’re not a character in a Disney Christmas movie

I know it’s tempting to break out all the cliches, but try to remember that you’re not a character in a Disney Christmas movie. If you don’t usually dress up in matching pajamas or knitted sweaters, no need to do so while shooting images for your Christmas cards either. Make sure your theme and outfits for the shoot match who you are. After all; the recipients of your Christmas Card is most likely interested in YOU.

  1. Make sure it’s not too busy

This might sound counterintuitive after reading tip number 1. But people in the same image should try to make sure you’re not wearing stuff that makes the image too busy. This means mixing and matching so that the total feel of the image is pleasing. You don’t need to dress in matching outfits, but try to stick to for instance earth tones, or shades of blue or fifty shades of grey for that matter. Just keep in mind that you should suit each other and you’ll get a much nicer group image. And by all means; do wear matching knitted sweaters if it feels natural. Personally I love matching knitted sweaters any time.

  1. Take advantage of the natural light

This time of year we’re able to enjoy both sunrise and sunset without having to get up too early or stay up too late. If that’s true where you live, shoot during golden hour. If not; shoot outside when it’s overcast. You don’t need professional lighting equipment to get well lit images, you just need to know how to use the natural light that is present to your advantage. The easiest way to do it is to shoot during golden hour when the light is soft and golden, or when the clouds provide you with the worlds largest soft box.

  1. Avoid busy backgrounds

You want the people in your image to stand out and not be disturbed by stuff in the background. There’s a few ways to do this. First and most important is to find a background that isn’t too busy in itself. A little bit of snow will help, but if the white Christmas isn’t anywhere in sight, fear not. Make sure the person or group you’re shooting isn’t too close to the background. This will help with separation. If you’re able to adjust your settings, make sure to use a wider aperture. About f2.8- f4 for single portraits and about f5.6-f7.1 for group portraits are my go to settings. This way I both make sure people are in focus and I create a bit of separation from the background.

  1. If it’s snowy, watch your exposure

I wrote a whole post on winter photography earlier. This will come in handy if you’re one of the fortunate that get to do Christmas Card Photography in snowy conditions. Go check it out!

I hope you liked this post on Christmas Card Photography. If you did, please give it a like and consider subscribing. If you do, I promise you one post each day until Christmas is finally here. You’ll also find images, reels and stories through blogmas over on my Instagram, so please go check it out!



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