Winter is the season to be creative. And what better way to show off your photography skills than with some personalised Christmas photo cards?
Here are 15 of the best Christmas Card Photo Ideas and how to capture them.
1. The Funny Christmas Photo Card
Everyone’s family loves a little comedy around Christmas. It is a perfect way to bring a smile to everyone’s faces while surprising the more conventional relatives with your funny ideas. The only limit here is your creativity.
If that is not exactly what you had in mind, you can use the traditional symbols of Christmas. Go to a gift shop if you are short for prop ideas, and take a look around in the Christmas section. Santa hats, reindeer antlers or elves on the shelves can make a photo Christmas themed, as well as offer the potential for comedy.
Capturing the true chaotic nature of Christmas preparations never ceased to make people smile. You can take a photo of the mess in the kitchen while having a mental breakdown that the endless baking causes. Or you can capture your kids and pets chasing each other, messing around with the present wraps and the decorations.
These Christmas photos are great for friends, and families that are fun-loving and easy-going. But we don’t recommend these Christmas photo ideas for your boss.
2. The Matching PJs
For a Christmas photo card idea that is neither comical nor entirely serious, go for matching pyjamas. This shows the family in their Christmas Eve clothing, reflecting the natural atmosphere of this special evening.
It’s a little more intimate, therefore more personal way of capturing the family together. The only problem you might have is finding the same pyjamas in different sizes.
An easy way to add Christmas mood to these pictures is to mix the traditional colours of Christmas. This colour scheme consists of white, red, gold and green. Naturally, it can be any other colour and pattern that the family has matching clothing of.
3. The Studio Shot
In the UK and the US, it used to be popular to have your image taken at a studio for a Christmas photo card. These scenes would depict a warm, cosy scene in front of a Christmassy backdrop and a picture-perfect tree.
Depending on how original you want your shots to be, there are a few different routes you can take.
The simplest is to find a photo studio that already has these backdrops. In most studios, you don’t even have to have any knowledge about how to set up the backdrops and the lights, there will be people to help you with everything.
If you are taking a more creative approach, your editing skills will help you out. You can take the shot faster, without much preparation on set. You will get the chance to play around with your photo later in Photoshop, adding as many details as possible.
If you go with the edited version, you need to find a perfect location and photograph it before the photoshoot. Then, after photographing the family separately, you need to combine the two elements together in Photoshop. You can even learn how to add fake snow to make the winter atmosphere even stronger.
It will take some time and practise, but it gives you a lot more flexibility than relying on studio backdrops. The best thing is, you can use the same backdrop next year as well.
4. The Santa Hats Card
This is the simplest Christmas photo card setup. If you have your tree and decorations up, it automatically makes for a perfect background.
Use the Christmas colour palette (reds, whites, golds and greens) to emphasise the vibes of the image. By making these the primary colours of the photo, you will create a much more universal look than just mixing all the colours together. Without Santa hats, it wouldn’t be as strong an image, so you will need those too.
The focus is going to be on you and your family’s interaction and the overall atmosphere of the photo. You can experiment with different poses and see what works best for you.
Place the biggest/tallest person down first, then you can layer everyone else on top. This works well with families that have more children, placing the youngest one at the top of the family.
Alternatively, you can dress yourself up as Santa, who is bringing the presents, and capture the moment when the kids receive their gifts.
5. The Snowflake Pose
You only need to figure out the backdrop – which is a nice carpet or wooden floor- and the outfits. Keep the outfits simple, to a few basic colours that match the Christmas theme. Lie down on the ground in a circle, with heads facing into the middle, and holding heads. This will create the shape that the snowflake pose got its name from.
Santa hats straightened out on the ground can add a true Christmas mood to the photo. You will need another person to capture the image from above and ensure everyone’s clothing is straight and spot on.
6. The Vintage Card
If traditional family Christmas photo outfit ideas aren’t for you, why not try something more vintage? Either get a traditional Santa costume or a dress in Christmas colours from another era.
Most of what you need can be easily sourced from charity shops. Friends and family and shopping online might help if you are looking for some specific props. Everyday items covered with, such as old mirrors or ornate armchairs can add a vintage feeling to your images. You can look for accessories, such as white gloves or golden necklaces in vintage shops as well.
If you don’t have the time, money, or energy for gathering all the props, use editing software. You can easily achieve the vintage look in Photoshop or Gimp. Use a sepia tone mixed with a ‘dust and scratches’ layer to achieve the feeling of the old times.
7. The Minimalist Card
Scandinavians are famous for their minimalist style. Their decor is mainly white, with wood furnishings and bright tones. This gives you most of what you need for perfect Christmas photo cards.
Use only a few props in a very clean setting and dress the subjects in Christmassy colours. Balance the subjects out with the props to create a composition that is visually appealing.
You can also focus on a detail, for example, a Christmas mug or Christmas socks to make sure it gives the viewer the feeling of holidays.
You can also photograph your entire family one by one. Then drop the images on a card as a grid to show everyone. It adds a bit of extra to the photo series if you make the family members make the same face or do the same pose in each of the shots.
8. The Classic Family Card
You can’t go wrong with a beautiful family portrait in a simple yet classic style. Make everyone put on their casual wear. This is the time to wear your favourite sweaters, dresses or shirts, preferably in a matching colour.
You don’t necessarily have to go with traditional Christmas colours. Purples, dark greens, greys and blues work well together and go with the cold tones of the season.
Try to keep the setting simple, with one or two props. There will be more emphasis on your posing. Stand or sit close together, smiling into the camera, or looking at each other and creating lovely family vibes.
This is a perfect chance to use a studio for correct lighting. Put a big softbox on one side, close to the family, to create soft side lighting. If you are aiming to minimise the shadows and contrast, add another light source, such as a flash or a reflector on the other side of the models.
The softer the lights are, the airier the picture will feel like.
9. The Outdoor Photo
Getting outside of the house is a perfect setting for a family Christmas photo. Especially if the landscape gives you the Christmas atmosphere. If you see frost, ice or snow outside, do not hesitate to go out and take a few family photos!
Make everybody dresses warm enough. Don’t worry about going for the typical Christmas colours. Chances are, you probably don’t all have red coats, hats and gloves.
Try to pose the family naturally. Make the parents stand in the middle while the kids are hugging them from both sides. If there is snow, play around with the snow to keep the children entertained. You can lie in the snow and make snow angels, or create a big snowball fight. This will result in a perfect candid shot for your family Christmas card.
Make sure there is enough natural light to illuminate the faces properly. With snow, this isn’t much of a concern, since it works as a natural reflector, reflecting the light back onto the models.
Put your camera on a tripod and set a timer. You should also set the camera to burst mode so that it takes several pictures after one another. This will increase your chances of capturing the perfect moment. You can also use a wireless shutter release hidden in your hand.
10. The Over the Top Card
My favourite Christmas photo cards are the ones that are little more candid. Each family has a personality, and candid photos can show how great this personality is.
Find a location that is simple, so that it doesn’t distract the viewers from the point of the photo. This can be a garden, a living room or a forest as well. Integrate some Christmas props that you can mess around with. Sometimes you don’t even have to plan the poses, the kids will take care of it themselves.
It can be comical, it can be over the top. Children tying up their parents with tinsel. Or stealing Santa’s cookies. Or the entire family dressed as Christmas gifts. The most important thing is that you end up with an image that depicts your family’s character.
11. The Pet Photo Card
Sometimes you might decide that you don’t want a Christmas photo card with people on it. In this case, you can still create a personal photo card by capturing the four-legged members of the family. Taking Christmas themed photos of pets gives you a whole new set of possibilities to be creative while impressing the viewers with the pure cuteness of the image.
You can go to a studio with pets as well, but it saves you from a lot of complication to simply take the shot at home. Try posing your pet in front of the Christmas tree, while wearing a Santa hat. Or put them in a big gift box and put a bow on their head. You can also go out and try to create the Christmassy feeling in the snow and with the use of some props.
The most important thing is that your pet feels safe and relaxed during the photoshoot. After all, you really don’t want them to look stressful on the Christmas card. So never force them into any ideas that they are not comfortable with.
12. Capturing Family Activities
You might have some Christmas related family traditions that you would like to turn into a card. Whether it is baking cookies, decorating the tree or opening presents, candid shots work the best when trying to capture the true Christmas atmosphere.
This way, it will be easier to get your kids to cooperate, while keeping them happy and engaged with something fun. You can spice the photo up with fairy lights or Christmas sweaters.
Make sure that the adults of the house are also taking a part in the photoshoot, interacting with the kids as naturally as possible. It will not only make your memories last, but it will also work as a personal and heartwarming Christmas photo card idea.
13. Make Use of Christmas Stockings
Hanging Christmas stockings above the fireplace is a tradition in many countries. They are mainly for hiding small gifts in them for kids, but they are also great for decorative purposes.
If you are looking for a photo card idea that creates a really nice and intimate atmosphere, try to purchase Christmas stockings and hang them somewhere in the living room. Each family member can be assigned a stocking, maybe even in a way that is personal and depicts the owner’s character somehow.
You can take picture of the stockings themselves hanging with Christmas lights in the background or fire crackling in the fireplace. Alternatively, you can capture the family sitting in front of them and posing for the camera. If you are looking for a more relaxed and candid shot, you can hide some candy or small toys in the stockings and let the kids look for them.
14. Include Santa’s Character
Who wouldn’t have loved Santa as a kid? Whether we admit it or not, we were all waiting for him to visit, bringing the presents and making our Christmas day unforgettable. But what was even better than the presents is the feeling of Christmas that he, as a symbol created.
To the kids, it doesn’t matter who dresses up as Santa, all they care about is the story that is behind the character. When they think of Santa, they think of everything positive that the holidays are about. Us adults can learn a lot from this attitude, and implement it in our photography as well.
Hire a Santa costume and make someone wear it on your photoshoot! He can be giving gifts to the kids, decorating the tree or just smiling into the camera. Doesn’t matter what he does, it will definitely make the Christmas card photo one of a kind.
15. Play With Fairy Lights
Playing around with lights is the ultimate tool for creating a unique mood on your photos. We have all seen those perfectly backlit Christmas photos, with gorgeous atmosphere and tasteful bokeh in the background.
If you want to create a spectacular and high-quality Christmas card, all you need to do is buy small fairy lights in the closest hobby or decoration shop. You can hang it up anywhere in your house, put it on the Christmas tree, or just lay it on the floor in the background.
Such lights work best for individual and closeup portraits. Sit your subject down somewhere and fill the frame with them, while setting your aperture as wide as possible. If you pay attention to composing the picture in a way that the lights are visible, this will result in nice bokeh and a soft backlight.
You can also ask your model to hold the lights in their hands and create a portrait with low-key lighting.
Creating Christmas cards is a fun activity that brings the family together right before the holidays. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different themes and atmospheres. This way you can make sure you will find the type of shot that fits your family the most.
We hope that our Christmas card photo ideas above will help you with taking the photos that you are aiming for!
If you liked this article, check out our post about creative Christmas photography ideas!