If you are like me you have thousands of photos saved on your computer from this year. Looking for something creative to do with them this holiday season? Why not make a photo book?

Tips on creating a photo book you’ll be proud of:

1)  Have a central theme. Maybe it’s “2012” and you do a page for each month. Or what about “Our Adventures” and you include photos from your outings and travels throughout the year. “Smiles”, include the obvious, smiles of your favorite people.

2) Less is more. I personally love books that have a strong and large image on each page, or a single image across two pages (a spread).

3) Sort your photos before your get started. Save them in a folder so they are easy to upload in one action. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time. Aim for 2-3 images x the number of pages you want in your end book.

4) Choose a layout that best matches your images. If you are going to put more than one photo on a page, use layouts that match the content of your photo. Don’t crop out important details. Also, be sure all the photos on the page have a central theme. Even if they are from different events, keeping the photos of the same person will make the page feel more unified and not random.

5) Research printing options. Search for reviews before you start working on your book. Be sure the company you choose meets your needs. Do you want an eBook and a print book? Do you want to be able to print more than one run of your book? Do you want to use your Instagram or Facebook photos? Hard cover? Soft cover?

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Second year in a row I got to photograph this great family in St. Louis.

When kids are not fond of having their photos taken, work with them. The most important thing in these situations is to keep the photo session relaxed. Sometimes kids arrive at the location unsure of what to expect or afraid they won’t “do it right”.

I like to start my sessions just talking to the family, and the kids directly. Ask them questions about school, life, etc. Have them tell you a story. Let them loose up. Investing a few minutes in the beginning will get you better pictures in the end.

After you’ve gotten them relaxed, if you can, consider letting them choose a location to take their photos (or from a few you suggest). Using common objects (aka props) in unexpected ways can ease the experience for those camera-shy kids too.

I always keep this in mind when I am shooting, the goal is not a smile, but capturing the essence of the child in a beautiful way.

Working on your holiday cards for 2012? I love this design from Tiny Prints. Click on image to view on Tiny Prints site.


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Need helping choosing which photo(s) to use in your holiday card?

  1. Choose a card layout that fits your photos, not photos that fit your card. This can be challenging when there are so many great templates out there these days. But you really will be less frustrated and more satisfied with the results if you do it this way. Promise.
  2. Use photos that have a clear, single message. They shouldn’t have distracting backgrounds or too many things going on. I personally like one great shot that represents my family’s personality (and where everyone’s faces can be seen when possible.) The hardest thing to do is to separate yourself from a photo. If you were present when a photo was taken, you have an emotional attachment to the photo. It means more to you than what is actually shown in the photo. But your reader wants a clear, updated photo of your family (or family members) that they can understand simply by viewing it despite not being present when it was taken. Does that make sense?
  3. Be aware of how the people look, or end up cropped in your card. Can you see everyone’s face clearly? Have you chopped off any arms in awkward places. Are heads connected to necks? Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised what happens in group photos sometimes. Make sure the poses aren’t awkward and going to land you on that awkward family photo site. Oh, and make sure everyone has their arms, legs, zippers zippered, buttons buttoned. You get it :)
  4. Be sure your image is high-resolution. There is nothing worse than a blurry card.
  5. If you are going to use more than one photo I think you either need to have them all from the same setting or they all need be different. Half and half doesn’t work for me.
  6. If you are going to use a lot of images. Make sure they are close up and very clear. Most cards are smaller than 5×7, so once you get more than 2-3 photos on there, they start to get pretty small. You don’t want your reader to need a magnifying glass to see a photo. Well unless you are my great-grandma :)

Why I like the Tiny Print card above: The example above is one of all the photos being from the same setting (you can tell mostly b/c they are all in the same clothes). The consistency makes for a smart, clean-looking card. My eye knows what too look at to get the message of this card, and it’s not cluttered with background distractions. Your reader should be able to tell who the card is from right away by looking at the photos, second by reading the text. The graphics are simple and easy to read. Plus I love the rounded edge, and that you can customize the graphics area background color. Although I am partial to the grey because it doesn’t fight with the photos.

How I would do it: If I were ordering this card I would include one main close up family photos on the bottom, and then one photo of each of my kids (close up head shots, not full body because the space is so small) on the top.

So what are you waiting for? Go order your holiday cards before you forget.


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