Tips for Creating A Family Holiday Card

It’s the busiest time of the year!! One of the things you have to check off your list is your family holiday card.  Every year it seems to sneak up on me.  Thanksgiving zooms by and I’m left heading into December without an idea of what I’m going to do for a card. The last two years I had them done professionally so it was taken care of for me.  If you can go that route it’s nice to have a professional calling the shots and guiding you.  However, not everyone can do that or wants to do that.

Luckily, I have obtained the help of Local photographer, Lori Woodhouse. She is going to guide us with her knowledge and photography expertise.  Below she answers some highly asked questions that arise when taking holiday photos.

Follow These Simple Tips

1. What should families wear in a holiday photo? Deciding what to wear for the Christmas family portrait is a key step in creating perfect frame worthy holiday pictures. What you wear helps set the mood and tone for your portraits, so it’s very important that you choose wisely. There is a difference in choosing outfits for indoor portraits versus outdoor portraits. Indoor portraits tend to be more formal and outdoor is more casual. Coordinating outfits is an easy way to create an unified look in your Christmas portraits. Keep in mind matching doesn’t have to translate into identical. A few examples of matching formal outfits include white, red or green shirts and dark slacks or skirts. You could also wear matching sweaters or jackets, or choose varied outfits in a single shade of red or green. When you are posing for casual shots, you need to consider freedom of movement when selecting outfit choices. Don’t underestimate the versatility of blue jeans for your Holiday family portrait. Jeans can be coupled with sweaters, sweatshirts or even outdoor clothes for a relaxed look. Jeans also provide an excellent base for a variety of tops. Try coupling them with plain white shirts, red sweaters, or green coats. When deciding what to wear for the Christmas family portrait the best idea is to talk to your photographer. He or she can give you a better idea of how your portrait sitting will be set-up and what style of clothing is most appropriate. If you’ll be changing outfits during your sitting, try to save more restrictive outfits for the end of the shoot. Tight-fitting clothing can leave marks which may show up in the finished photo. Finally, make sure your clothing is neat, clean and in good condition before heading to the photo studio or outdoor location.

Lori Woodhouse Photography
This beautiful family portrait was done by local photographer Lori Woodhouse.

2. What are some good locations for a holiday photo? So much of what makes a holiday portrait spectacular is your surroundings. Finding a place that has good lighting, provides a beautiful and scenic background, and channels your family’s personality is almost more important than wearing color coordinated outfits. So, where are some fun places to snap a holiday photo in and around Hampton Roads you ask?
First Landing State Park, Cape Henry Lighthouses, Virginia Beach oceanfront isn’t too far away! Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Battlefields, Boat Docks near Air and Space Museum, Mariner’s Museum, Huntington Park and Beach, Chrysler Museum, Newport News City Center, Willoughby Spit, Hampton’s Old Whythe Neighborhood, Kiln Creek area, Park in Portsmouth, Hague section of Ghent, Intracoastal Waterway, Christopher Newport University, Downtown Norfolk, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Bacon’s Castle, St. Luke’s church, Oak Grove Park, Chesapeake Arboretum, Broad Bay Beach, Little Island Park in Sandbridge, Wildlife refuge in Sandbridge, and Bells Mill Park.

The Best thing to do is research and look up each of these locations and decide from there.

3. How do you capture your client’s natural smile? Contrary to popular belief, the word cheese is not the best word to say when trying to capture a genuine smile. When smiling for a photo, avoid the urge to say “cheese.” The word actually stretches your mouth into an unnatural, unflattering smile. If you have a hard time giving your natural smile try saying words that end in “uh” like “mocha” or “yoga” to bring the corners of your mouth up naturally.

4. What is the best time to take photos outside? The best time to take photos outdoors is what photographers call the infamous golden hour. The golden hour sometimes called the “magic hour” is roughly the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset. The exact duration varies between seasons so it’s important to listen to time suggestions from your photographer. During these times the sun is low in the sky and produces a soft diffused light which is much more flattering than harsh midday sun. If you cannot meet during these “golden hours” it is important to choose a location where there is shade so that the sun isn’t blinding or making you squint.

5. Can you give some tips for those that can’t get professional photos? Not everyone can afford to hire a professional photographer but you can still capture your own family portraits with all the tips I have shared with you so far. If you cannot afford an introductory DSLR camera it’s wise to invest in a high megapixel point and shoot camera and a tripod as well. Point and shoot cameras only run around $200 and can provide a good quality image. Remember to read over your camera manual and learn how to use a tripod so that you can get in the picture with your family.

6. What tips would you give for doing a portrait inside? As far as indoor portraits go, they tend to be on the formal side. However, your photographer may have many different background options to choose from. Time of day shouldn’t matter if you are shooting in a studio setting as your photographer should have adequate artificial lighting available.

7. What is the most important tip to remember when sending a holiday card? The annual holiday card: the chance for you to send warm season’s greetings to your nearest and dearest. When selecting your grandma’s-fridge-worthy photo it’s best to choose one with a high-resolution. The larger the photo file is, the better it will print. You can upload your original photo to a photo-editing app to enhance and give it extra character.

8. What would you like your clients to know? Holiday sessions should be scheduled well in advance with your photographer as September-November are the busiest times of year. Contact your photographer as early as July to schedule your fall family holiday portrait.

9. What type of photography do you specialize in?  I specialize in family, maternity and newborn photography and have been in business for four years. You can reach me via my Facebook page Lori Woodhouse Photography LLC or via website

Hopefully these tips will give you some great ideas for your holiday card this year.  I want to thank Lori Woodhouse for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing her talents with us.  I can’t wait to start receiving Christmas cards in the mail from friends and family.

Yours Truly,



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