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Tips on how to take a perfect holiday card family picture

You don’t need to be a perfect family to capture the perfect holiday card family picture. Whether it’s a posed image inside by the fireplace or an impromptu scenic shot outdoors, there are tips to follow in order to get the perfect holiday card you want. After all, you want your family looking their best if their faces will be mounted on refrigerators and mantles all season long!

It’s a busy time of year and LaTour Design wants to help you get that perfect holiday card family picture. Follow these 5 simple, yet very important, steps:

  1. Choose a location, date and time to take the photo
  2. Decide if you are taking the photo by yourself or hiring a professional. LaTour Design can help! Request Pricing Information
  3. Organize and prepare for the photo shoot by choosing clothing and props
  4. Take the photo and have fun!
  5. Choose your favorite photo and turn it into a beautiful holiday card


I like to tell my clients to choose a location where everyone is comfortable. Depending on the ages of your children, a place where they have been or are used to might be the best. Happy baby = more opportunity for happy pics! Do you have a local family favorite hiking spot or park to go to? You don’t necessarily have to travel far. A perfect place could be right in your back yard or your front porch. When deciding on your location, keep a few things in mind:

  • Don’t pick a place that is too crowded
  • Try to pick a place that offers a couple different backgrounds, like a wooded area and an open field, so you can get different shots and angles
  • Look for a spot with shading in front of and behind your family to ensure consistent, quality lighting

As far as timing goes, I suggest taking the pics at sunrise or sundown. There is a reason it’s called “The Golden Hour”. It’s the best way to avoid harsh shadows and squinting eyes. While it’s not the always ideal for newborns or young children, it’s what I recommend if you can do it. Choosing a time when no one is stressed and in a hurry will also be beneficial. If you rush home from work, pick the kiddos up and head to the location, you and your family will be stressed and that may appear in some of the expressions.


I know a lot of people struggle with this, because many have asked me if it’s really worth the investment. Of course I’m going to try to get you to use LaTour Design for all your portrait needs, but honestly, it depends on what you are using the images for. If you just want to take a pic to share on social media, go ahead and take it yourself. That’s a no-brainer. But if you plan creating a beautiful art for your home, or using prints as gifts, I recommend hiring LaTour Design or another professional to shoot your image. We know how to do more than simply use the camera, we know how to make your family be comfortable AND looking their best. For larger families, hiring a professional can speed up the process as well as guarantee a great shot.

If you plan on taking your own photo, make sure to take several pictures at different angles to capture the best facial expressions. There are a few things to consider when taking your own image for your holiday card.

APERTURE: A blurred background creates a beautiful contrast where the family will pop out in focus. This is accomplished mostly by using a wide aperture, like f2.8, but using this shallow depth of field could possibly result in some of the subjects being out of focus. Slow down and take your time.

EXPOSURE: Try different shutter speeds at the location before you get the family posed and ready. Once you pick one, test it on a family member and make sure that their features are not washed out. Using a faster shutter speed will allow you to capture sharp images, especially with little ones that are on the move.

POSES: Posing options are endless. The goal is to have the image look as natural as possible. The closer the family is when posing, the better the picture. Put your arms around mom, have Dad hold the baby, just make sure it’s a tight squeeze. Trust me, it may feel awkward but the image will be better. Always avoid everyone doing the same thing, ie everyone sitting, or everyone standing. Change it up! It’s a good thing.


WHAT TO WEAR: The most important factor when it comes to dressing for your holiday card family picture, is to dress for the weather. Make sure the kiddos are comfortable. It’s much easier to get that happy baby smile when it’s cold outside with a warm fuzzy had and coat on, rather than a little red dress. I know you want everyone to look their best, but try not to overthink what to wear. As long as you all are wearing a color scheme that goes with your location, you should be good. It’s best to dress in solid colors so you have less distraction and clash in the picture. For example, do not have one child wearing stripes, and another polka dots. It’s also key not to wear any clothing that has text on it. Different colors can be worn, just make sure they match and compliment each other. Wearing neutrals like beige, white, black, navy or gray is a safe bet for everyone looking their best.
PREPPING FOR EXPERIENCE: The thought of having a photo shoot can be daunting to some. Give your kids enough notice so they can mentally prep for it. Offer a treat or some sort of incentive for after the shoot to drive a positive behavior. Bring snacks for all. Everyone loves snacks and a full tummy is a happy tummy. Want something specific in the shoot? Plan ahead of time and gather any props you may want to use.


Be on time, with everything if you can for the day. Get yourself and the family ready ahead of schedule. Running late causes stress on everyone and you, nor the photographer, want to deal with stressed kids. Arrive to the location a few minutes early and f you are taking the DIY route, practice a few poses in advance. If you are having LaTour Design or some other professional take your shot, let them set the tone and get the family excited to be there. Try to be natural and have fun, this is when the best candid shots happen, and I guarantee you will love them.


There are several companies that offer templates to use (Walgreens, Snapfish, Shutterfly, etc) and there are hundreds of layout options to choose from. I get it, this can be overwhelming. I suggest taking a peak at some and seeing what you like and don’t like. How do you want to show off your family? Being goofy or playful? Elegant? First, I suggest picking your favorite picture form the shoot and then decide what kind of Christmas card layout would work best with that image. If you use LaTour Design, you are in luck! You can tell me what kind of style you want and I’ll go ahead and custom design an awesome looking card for you! This is a definite benefit for me and LaTour Design, being a designer and a photographer. Plus, all of LaTour Designs’ products are printed at high-quality professional photo labs.

Hope this helps you plan and prepare what you want to do this year for your holiday card family picture. If you have any questions, please reach out to me. And, if interested, LaTour Design is booking mini sessions just for the holiday card. Book now, time is running out…. Santa will be here soon.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Rebecca Retzer
LaTour Design Owner

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