The Best Holiday Card Photos

It’s time to start thinking about which photo you’re going to use for your holiday cards. You may have chosen a photo that is almost perfect —Lake Tahoe at Fourth of July where the saturated hues of the lake give you that sun-kissed glow. The midday lighting is shadow-proof, and the red in the American flag picks up the red in your dress. Except for one thing: your forehead looks shiny and you son is missing from the shot.

In an ideal world, we’d look as if we were professionally photographed every time a friend’s digital camera flashed. Since we can’t all be as talented as Richard Avedon or Henri Cartier Bresson when capturing that moment charged with motion and emotion in a portrait, we’ve written some tips on how to find the perfect holiday card photo.

A Professional Shoot
There is no motion blur, the lighting is balanced, and most importantly, you appear happy and joyful. Whether booking a shoot for a newborn, an engagement shoot, or just to celebrate your family, a professional can really make you come alive. “A talented photographer knows to wait for the right moment,” says San Francisco-based professional photographer Kathleen Harrison. She also helps choreograph your shoot to produce movement and a natural stance. End results ensure that the light is even; the contrast is balanced; the resolution is not over or under exposed; and the angle is flattering. Now is the perfect time to schedule an outdoor professional shoot.


Dave and Michelle by Kathleen Harrison Photography

Many photographers suggest wearing white, black, or neutral tones. Keep it simple and remember that solid colors come out better than complicated patterns. You can let the card design dress up the photo.

An Event or Occasion

Whether this is a recent wedding, birthday party, or other festive occasion, you’ve dressed to be photographed and your family is together. If you’re a recent bride, you’ll probably never look better, so you should select a favorite wedding photo (or two or three) to share with family and friends.


Stacy, Jack & family

Family vacation
Most professional photographers agree outdoor light is usually the most flattering. A vacation or trip can be a good time to get this shot – whether you convene annually in Sun Valley or you’ve made a special trip to the Coast of Brava, everyone has that sun-kissed glow. A nature backdrop with vibrant colors can bring your family to life.

Pointers & Tips
Try using fresh, modern colors, such as berry red, or non-traditional pairings: turquoise and red, blue and orange, lime green and plum, or burgundy and sage for your card design. If your photo colors do not match the card you like, Minted’s photo editor (just click “edit” after you’ve uploaded your photo in step 2 of the Personalization process and it will automatically open) can easily convert it to black and white with the click of your mouse. With this tool, you can also crop a horizontal photo to make it vertical, or vice versa. If you feel you need more assistance editing out background, our talented DAs can expertly balance out light and color tone for a small fee.

Photos with a minimum DPI of 300 print best. When proofing your order if we notice the image looks a little blurry, we’ll give you a call.


If you pick a card with text overlaid over a photo, make sure the photo has a high enough contrast with the text.

Holiday Nostalgia by Emily Ranneby

Holiday Nostalgia by Emily Ranneby

With a card with a colorful frame, make sure that the photo is vibrant enough to stand out.


Photographs from the same photo shoot helps unify a multi-photo card.


Ornate Frame by Wiley Valentine

Find more of Erica on her blog.

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  2. As a professional photographer I think it’s very important also to take the time to consider the clothing.

    You don’t want something that will look dated after a time, as some far out styles will tend to look… Better to go for a classic and perhaps more simple style.

  3. Great post!! I am always referring my photography clients to Minted for their holiday cards. The design is unparalleled in the market.

    I do wish you guys offered something for pro photogs to include our info on the image and pro level printing on the images, but until then, I know that they will be happy with their cards.

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