Tips from a Pro: DIY Holiday Cards

As a self-professed Pinterest and DIY enthusiast, I have attempted to bring to life a myriad of projects… some of which I look back on with pride and others that I hope to soon forget. (Case in point: my son’s first birthday homemade onesie…D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R). This holiday season, I plan on tackling a new project: a budget-friendly greeting card featuring my rambunctious and often cranky toddler.

I know what you’re thinking: she’s in way over her head! To ensure I make my best attempt, I have picked the brain of my good friend and photographer, Martin Carrasco of Martin Carrasco Photography and Mi Casa art collaborative. He has experience in corralling children of all shapes, sizes and personalities and still managing to get the perfect shot. With my sleeves rolled up and a pocket full of pro tips, I’m ready to roll… or shall I say, shoot? Read on, fellow DIY mommas!

  1. “Be at eye level with your subject”

    • If you have small children, you will likely have to be sitting/kneeling on the floor or on your tummy to be at an adequate angle.  Martin jokingly pointed out the fact that his shorts are often dirty because he gets on the ground so often during his shoots. Taking photos from too high off the ground might create shadows and distort your child’s natural features.
      Kid Pictures Eye Level
  2. “Go for neutrals with the backdrop”

    • In the past, I have utilized a neutral colored roll of fadeless paper as a backdrop. It really does make such a difference! You can also set up by a solid/neutral wall. When people look at your photos, you want them to focus on your child, not the backdrop. Martin also mentioned that patterns are majorly distracting and will not allow your subject to “pop”.
      DIY Holiday Photo Card Tips - Neutral Background
  3. “Natural light is best”

    • As a beginner photographer (at best!), I’m not quite sure how to operate settings on my point-and-shoot camera. I don’t have any fancy equipment and I don’t plan on purchasing any in the near future. The solution? Set up in an area with plenty of natural light. When Luis turned one, I took his cake smash photos by a window near the front of my tiny apartment. The lighting definitely prevented me from creating shadows with the flash option. Martin recommends you take your photos midday, if you will be indoors, in order to get the most optimal lighting possible.
      myth-of-pinterest-party
  4. “Keep your kids as the focus, not the props”

    • Props are fantastic, but you don’t want them to add clutter or serve as a distraction in your photos.  Use props sparingly or in the background (such as a Christmas tree) with your child/children seated in front. Pro pointer: encourage your kids to play with the props for caught in-the-moment pictures. For example, utilize a string of lights, tree ornaments or have your kids hold a naughty/nice sign. I think I know which one my son will be displaying!
      DIY Photo Card Tips
  5. “Think of a color scheme or theme when putting outfits together”

    • While perusing Target the other day, I found an adorable set of elf themed pajamas that I will use for my holiday photo (to which one day my mortified son will see and say “Mo-oooooooom”).  Martin recommends you stay within a family of colors or patterns, such as shades of red/green or plaid, for example. While having exactly matching outfits might seem like a good idea, it will not give the photo as much interest as varying yet cohesive set of outfits will.

Now that I have been advised by a pro on how to take a decent holiday photo, I’m ready to get behind the camera! Once you have wrangled your children into your own beautiful photograph, head on over to Shutterfly, Vistaprint, Walgreens, or CVS to name a few and plug in your photo.

Voilá! Holiday cards in a pinch. Now, if only I could figure out a way to get my husband in his santa-themed pajamas…

 

Share your DIY photo tips below!

If you still need help with photos, you can always check out our guide to RGV photographers for some professional help!

 

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