THE ARTISTIC LIFE – Living the creative life in everything we do

Posts tagged ‘homemade’

Tips for Photographing the Family Christmas Card

It’s the time of year where we get our mailing lists together, buy holiday stamps at the post office, and prepare to send out the family Christmas cards to family and friends. Family photo Christmas cards have been very popular for quite a few years now, and if you are new to creating your own photo card, or just looking for ways to improve your annual creations, here are a few tips.

1) Shoot while other family or friends are in town. We like to do our photo shoot when my mom is town for Thanksgiving. She is also a photographer, and can help with the setup and pressing the shutter button. Other options are to use the self-timer option (with 10 second delay) or to subtly use the wireless remote shutter release while you are posing in the photo.

2) Use a clutter-free background for your photo. You want to keep the backdrop simple – a neutral background, a blurred background with bokeh, the lit Christmas tree  (slightly out of focus can be a nice effect, especially with some bokeh), or simple scenery (grass, woods, etc). You want the focus to be on the people, and not the  background. Make sure that everything in the background of the photo is intended to be in there. There is nothing worse than getting your 80 prints back from the printer, only to find out that you accidentally show a can of Pringles in the photo next to the family pet.

3) Blank areas or less appealing parts of the photo can be covered up in a graphics program, with solid areas of color, text, or clip art. For example, in this posted photo, I covered up the bottoms of my husband’s dirty sneakers with a solid brown area, and included our names on it. I use Photoshop, but use whatever graphics application you are comfortable with.

4) I use at least 300 dpi resolution. Different printers use different standards and specs, but 300 dpi is a good standard. You can always downsize afterwards, but you can’t successfully up the resolution, without losing quality.

5) You don’t have to match your outfits exactly, but at least make sure the colors go well with the theme (I tend to wear greens, reds, or neutrals) and that they don’t clash with each other. If you decide you’d like a blue theme for your Christmas cards, well then, make sure you all wear blue that doesn’t clash, and if Aunt Edna is in the picture, make certain that she gets the memo and doesn’t wear orange stripes that day.

6) Add some Christmas ambience. This is optional, but I find that it makes it look like a Christmas card, without even much effort. Include the family Christmas tree, holiday decor, snowy deck, fireplace, etc. but remember to keep the background fairly simple (tip #2)

7) Sharper isn’t always better, especially with holiday portraits. Dimmed lights, a warm glow, Christmas lights shining in the dusky light…these all add a holiday ambience, give a warm feeling, and make everybody look flattering. Tack sharp is not a requirement for this type of portrait. Of course, make certain that your family members’ faces are all in focus. This isn’t an excuse to hand out really blurry and poorly executed photos.

8) Try including the family pets, in addition to all family members. This can be logistically difficult (my cat doesn’t like to be held or forced to “model”), but it gives the photo a sense of your whole family and adds some personality and cuteness to the picture.

9) Instead of something in the background, try something interesting in the foreground. For instance, in this posted photo, I liked the look of the string of Christmas lights laying in front of us and the reflections on the hardwood floor. But again, keep it fairly simple. The focus should be on the people.

10) I find that using one of the many online or local print services are actually cheaper than doing it yourself. With the cost of glossy printer paper and ink, it is less expensive to upload your photo and send away for the pictures. I’ve also used the fast printing services of a nearby drugstore (Walgreens, CVS, etc) or Target. You can usually pick up the results in the store within a couple hours. This year I’m using Shutterfly online. You can choose holiday cards if you want a card that opens, or simple prints (less expensive). If you already have an online photo account with this type of website, by all means, use it. Some online services even can address and mail your cards for an extra cost (you need to upload your mailing addresses to them). For me, it’s not worth the cost, but if you’re in a time crunch, go for it!

11) If you have added design elements to the photo itself (tip #3), you should choose to just make basic prints, or at least select a very simple card layout template.  You don’t want to add additional greetings, text and art to your photo, if it already contains this. Make sure you preview your photo within any template very carefully and make sure it isn’t too busy or that nothing is cut off (some of these sites tend to crop the outer area of the photo a little bit).

Hope these tips help you create the perfect family photo Christmas card! Happy Holidays!

Christmas Card Family Photo

Christmas Card Photo

Advertisements

Homemade (and Free!) Christmas Wreath

This weekend has been spent eating turkey and decorating the house for Christmas. We are expecting 55+ people at our house for our neighborhood annual progressive dinner, so wanted expand our usual holiday decor. But I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money. So, I decided to try my hand at an evergreen wreath (picture to come shortly).

Tips for making a free homemade wreath for your door or wall:

1) Use old coat hangers for the base. I used three old metal coathangers, and, using pliers, twisted them into a frame onto which to attach the greens. I kept the hook of the first  hanger to  hang the wreath when it’s complete. I then twisted the triangular hanger shape into a rough circle. I intertwined the other two bent hangers around the first hanger, to create areas where greens can be attached.

2) Use greens from your yard, Christmas tree, or even a home improvement store. We found FREE Christmas tree greens in a bin at Lowe’s. Right after Thanksgiving is probably the best time to find these freebies, because the Christmas trees have recently been delivered to the store, and there are lots of branches cut off the trees when they are packaged for sale. Various types of greens can be used, including pine, fir, and holly. Find holly with the red berries, for some pretty red accents on your wreath.

3) Use nuts or pinecones, also available from your yard. These can be wired or glued on, once the base of the wreath has been finished.

4) Use any wire or string you have laying around the house to attach each branch to the hangers. Keep the branches flowing in the same direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) when attaching to the wreath. Look at your wreath in progress for any gaps or unevenness in the greens and add branches or twigs as necessary. Continue until the wreath is equally full on all sides.

5) Complete the wreath with a bow of ribbon or fabric used from last year’s gifts. I usually keep any good quality ribbons on gifts that are presented to me. I can then recycle these for future gifts or crafts.

How I Made a Homemade Photo Box

Studio setup for homemade photobox for microstock photography

My studio setup for homemade photobox for microstock photography

I recently posted about taking photographs for microstock photography using my new homemade photo box. Here is how I made mine, using only materials that I had on hand:

How I Made my Photo Box:

1. I found a fairly large box, roughly 14x18x16. This box can be different sizes, but you don’t want it too small. A roughly square shape is desirable too.

2. I located a roll of rice paper and duct tape. Other materials can be used, such as white tissue paper, light white fabric, etc. I had rice paper sitting in my closet, so that’s what I used. Of course, masking tape can be used instead of duct tape.

3. With the box opening facing me, using an Xacto knife I cut an opening into the left side, right side, and top, leaving about a 2 inch frame around each opening. I was not very particular with measurements – I did this freehand.

4. I cut rice paper large enough to cover the 3 openings.

5. I used duct tape to secure the rice paper over each opening.

6. I cut the cardboard pieces off of the box top (which is the front opening of the photobox), except for the bottom piece.

7. I cut a long piece of rice paper and taped this to the back inside of the photobox. This is used as the white background for photographed objects within the photobox. This piece of rice paper can always be replaced if it develops any wrinkles, stains, or other imperfections, as you will not want to remove these imperfections with Photoshop every time.

8. I am experimenting with various desk/portable lamp combinations. You will need a combination of lights angled from the top and side(s) of the photobox to achieve the lighting that you want.

9. I’ve also learned the trick of placing a square of clear glass (I used a piece of glass from an old picture frame that I wasn’t currently using) on the white rice paper backdrop (the part that extends to the bottom of the photobox). This adds that subtle reflection that is popular in some stock photography. Of course, the addition of this glass is optional, depending on the look you are trying to achieve.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: