Make the Right Choice

You lay out the outfits. You color match. You want it cohesive but not matchy-matchy. You comb hair, curl hair, braid hair. You pile into the car to some remote location on the other side of town. You firmly remind everyone in the car that they have one job and one job only: COOPERATE. For the love—JUST SMILE.

It’s family photo time. 

Ah, yes. When you feel the crisp air outside, instead of basking in the glow of colorful leaves and enjoying the beauty of the transition, you feel your stomach drop with the thought, “I’m late for holiday card photos!” 

 I’m not going to argue. Yes, if the air is chilly, you are indeed late for holiday card photos. Some photographer somewhere can probably squeeze you in. But, for you Plan Ahead Enneagram Type 1s and the Type As of the world: you were fully prepared, forcing your children into cardigans in August for a prime photo op. It’s October, and you’re ready to get this show on the road. Let’s pick a card, already. 

Here are some guidelines for selecting the right card for your photo: 

1)   Think outside the box: Don’t freak out if you haven’t booked a photo with a professional. One of my favorite Christmas cards was born out of an Instagram picture I took of the girls, with just the right filter. I used socialprintstudio (which prints Instagram pictures on a great heavy weight matte uncoated paper). Ty printed a simple letterpressed card and adhered the image — I loved the finished look! Rest easy. You can always take a fun selfie with your family if you need to take a year off from the polished, professional approach. You’ll just need to choose a card with a square image for photo, which leads to my next guideline…

 2)   Think inside the box: Okay, you also do have literal box boundaries to consider. If you have a horizontal photo with a lot of people in it (see large group family photo below) then you are absolutely going to need to choose a horizontally formatted card. There’s just no way to make that work with a square or vertical. Maybe that sounds obvious, but after 17 years in business, I assure you: it’s not. It’s like Dolly Parton’s famous words when her dress split open at the 1978 CMAs, “My daddy says that’s what I get for for putting 50 pounds of mud in a five-pound bag!” The photo has to fit the frame, guys.

Kira shows a full family photo card… must be horizontal!

Kira shows a full family photo card… must be horizontal!

Keep it simple when you use multiple pictures on a card design.

Keep it simple when you use multiple pictures on a card design.

3)   Don’t lose the forest for the trees: You may notice that we don’t actually offer any holiday card designs with a whole bunch of photos all over it. This is because I’m a firm believer that the eye won’t actually focus and see any of those pictures.  When there are 12 photos on a card, nobody will really even see one of them. It’s too much information. There’s a lack of focus. Choose your BEST photo and use that on the front. Your message and image will stand out with clarity. I do love to add a few individual kid or pet pictures to the back, but no card should ever have more than 5 photos total. If you’re going for a multi-picture look, keep the design clean and bold so that your brain can take it all in. Nobody responds to clutter.

Overset text is going to be most readable on top of white space.

Overset text is going to be most readable on top of white space.

4)   Make room: I often have clients who love a card that has text written on top of the photo (see ‘good tidings’ example). Ultimately, this really only works if you have a white space on your photo. You need major white or blue sky above your heads in order to put text that is readable. People often want this look but it only works with select photos. If there’s any mottled background (like trees that break up the clouds) then you’ll lose your message. If your photo doesn’t have this wide open solid color, don’t choose something with text on top of it. 

5)   Mirror the message: Choose a card that fits the spirit of your photo, not just the actual physical elements such as orientation and color palette. For example, I love this photo paired with the message of “Go tell it on the mountain” because the photo showcases all of this lush, green fir tree imagery. It just pairs well with the spirit of that old hymn!

A hymn with a nature-theme pairs beautifully with a photo in a natural setting.

A hymn with a nature-theme pairs beautifully with a photo in a natural setting.

Another example of capturing the spirit of the photo with the message.

Another example of capturing the spirit of the photo with the message.

 6)   Enjoy the process: I love helping people select the right card for their photo, and our whole sale team is so good at helping you narrow choices down. Yes, you can absolutely order a card online (see a direct link to our new card designs below) but you can also come into the store and someone will help you make these decisions if you’re just not certain where to land. Let someone with an eye for design and layout help you so that you can just enjoy the finished product stress-free!

 Special Offer just for Blog Readers: I’m offering an exclusive, early-bird flash sale on personalized holiday cards ordered online now through November 2nd. Youv’e got to act fast—this offer ends midnight on Saturday! Save 10% on your card order when you use the code RIGHTCHOICE at checkout.

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You’ve got cute kids, a cute dog, or maybe you’re a cute couple. I had one client who has been single for a number of years, and she always sent out an adorable card with a photo of her together with her horses! Remember: you’re sharing a bit of your year and a message of joy with the people you love most, so just embrace the family photo chaos and remember that these years pass quickly. It’s so nice to have it documented! 

One note: all of the photographs on these cards were taken by the talented Andrea Spidell. Give her a call if you need a last minute family mini-session and let her work her magic for you!

From our family to yours, 

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