Category: Photography Tips

Get inspired with these photography tips to capture the best photos of your family, friends and pets!

Christmas is fast approaching and you’ve forgotten to book your family photo shoot. Or maybe you don’t have several hundred dollars to drop on a family photo shoot. Or…maybe your three-year-old tattooed his face with a black sharpie as you were frantically curling your hair JUST MINUTES BEFORE YOUR FAMILY PHOTO SHOOT. Yup, that’s happened. In any case, do not fear. You don’t need professional photos to create a picture-perfect family Christmas Card. Grab your phone, and let’s get started.

Choose Your Card

Step One: Choose the card you want to send. We know…weird, right? Choosing your card before you take the photos? But we promise, this approach is the right approach. Take a peek through all our lovely Holiday Photo Cards and we guarantee you’re going to fall hard for one or two. Take some time to learn about the options available for the photo layout on your “it” card (we often have many options) and take notes about how many photos you need. We have cards that fit just one photo or as many as 20 plus! Also consider the format – vertical or horizontal, otherwise known as landscape or portrait – that you’ll need to capture for your chosen design.

Visualize Your Vibe

Step Two: Decide what kind of vibe you want your card to have. Are you looking for images that feel more like a photo shoot? Perhaps a nice family photo with everyone smiling (fingers crossed!) and individual shots of each of your beloved family members? Yes, you can do this with a phone! Or maybe you’d rather create a card that feels a little more like real-life. Candid shots of the kids being their crazy-selves and a quick selfie of you and your partner can come together to create a card that feels super genuine.

 Find Your Light

Step Three: Get the light right. This is the most important step in creating a beautiful Christmas card with photos from your smart phone. Find the light, and your photos are going to be gorgeous. Do not – we repeat – do not attempt to take photos in a dimly lit room or outside after dusk. Your photos will print dark and be the furthest thing from merry and bright! If you want to take a photo in your home, take a walk around the house during the morning, daytime and evening. Be on the lookout for soft, filtered light that often shines through windows in the early to mid-morning and late-afternoon to evening. Once you find the light, grab a willing model and take some test shots. You’ll know the light is right if your photo looks, well, like real life! The best way is to compare skin tones in your image to your subject to make sure you’ve nailed it. If you’d rather have photos outside, take these same steps to find the soft light. Early morning or early evening is your best friend and bright, direct sunlight is your worst enemy. Again, drag one of your kiddos outside and take some test shots. Try different angles and locations until your image looks spot-on.

Be Confident

Step Four: Grab your phone, grab your subjects, get into that light and be confident. You’ve got this! If you’re going for that more traditional, posed look, you’re going to want to prop your phone up and set the timer (assuming you want to be in the photo and you, mom, should definitely be in the photo!). All phones are different, but we promise it’ll be easy. If it’s not intuitive, a quick Google search will point you in the right direction. Gather your family to where you want them to pose and then find a place to prop up your phone. There’s really no need for a fancy tripod. Drag a chair over and use books to create the right height. Stuffed animals can also come in handy when trying to angle your phone just right. Set the timer, run to your fam and say “cheese!”. Don’t sweat it if you don’t get the perfect photo, just have fun with it! If the kids are uncooperative, start a tickle fight for a family photo that feels genuine and full of joy. If you want individual photos of your children or pets, pull them each aside into that pretty light. Now, get on their level. Bend your knees so your photo isn’t angled up or down, but pointed straight at that angelic little face. Then snap away. If you want candid shots, forgo the timer. Again, get into the light and then – and this is key – give the kids something to do. If you’re in the kitchen, bake a cake. Yes, it’ll be messy but you’ll love the images! If you’re in a bedroom, give them a stack of books to read. Maybe your best light is on the staircase? Get out the holiday garland and decorate away.

Easy Editing

Step Five: Edit your photos. If you’ve never edited your phone photos before, this can sound scary but don’t worry, there’s an app for that. Our favorite photo editing app is A Color Story. First, take a peek back at the Christmas card design that you chose. Look through your photos and decide which ones you’ll use on your card. Open your editing app and begin by cropping your photo. Next, play around with the Curves, Saturation, Vibrance, Highlights and Shadows until your photo looks just the way you want. If it gets away from you, simply start over! There’s really no “right” way to edit a photo. Just make sure that your photo is bright enough and has enough contrast between the colors so that it’ll print beautifully. You can also get creative with filters and effects such as flare, bokeh and other light elements. If the light in your photos didn’t turn out exactly as you wanted, these can help immensely.

Upload and Create

Step Five: Upload your photo and create your card. It’s that simple. Head over to Pear Tree, then click the “Personalize” button next to the Christmas Card you love to launch our editing tool. Then, click the “add photo” button to add all those gorgeous images. Finish off your card by choosing your colors and updating the text with your personal message.


And that’s it! Trust us you can create a beautiful Christmas Card using phone photos!

We’ve gathered 20 different family photo ideas that will fill your Christmas card with extra merry this year.
We’ve gathered 20 different family photo ideas that will fill your Christmas card with extra merry this year.

‘Tis the season to gather family photo ideas! After all, your Christmas cards won’t create themselves. To help, we’ve gathered the best family photo ideas that will make creating your Christmas cards quick and snappy (and extra merry) this year!

1. Holiday traditions
Create a truly traditional card by capturing holiday moments your family does year after year. Like picking out the tree, decorating the tree or baking holiday cookies.

We’ve gathered 20 different family photo ideas that will fill your Christmas card with extra merry this year.

2. Make a Run for it
Have the whole family make a run for it. You’ll be surprised how fun this photo idea is!

We’ve gathered 20 different family photo ideas that will fill your Christmas card with extra merry this year.

I have to say, I have completely enjoyed becoming a mother of three! Of course there are moments where life is complete chaos, but I’ve found it to be a good chaos. I think the main reason is not so much the new baby, but the realization that this is okay. I can now accept that there will always be toys on the floor, five more loads of laundry, and dishes in the sink. As a mom of three now, I’m cool with that!Photo Tips

Of course, the transition wasn’t easy….I remember the day my 3-year-old pulled frozen peas from the freezer and stomped each one into the floor. I also remember the day my 5-year-old got so mad, she put a hole in the wall from slamming the door. Ha! We definitely had a “transition” but hey, what family doesn’t? Imperfections and all, I’m loving this life.

When Justin was born, I was pretty excited to be able to send birth announcements, but you’d think I would’ve been all prepared with my favorite designs well before the baby was born…not so much. That’s the problem with working for a company like Pear Tree – there are ALWAYS new designs, and it was nearly impossible for me to narrow it down.

The most important step for me, besides choosing the design, is choosing the right photos, so I thought I’d share my process and a few photo tips for organizing and editing them with you.

First, I copy all the photos that I might use to their own folder – this keeps everything separated and easy to navigate. Then I start the editing process. I use Picasa, a free service that is really simple to use. There are tons of free systems online – I like this one because it helps to organize and identify the people in the photos. For each of the 10 or so photos that I really like, I do the following:

  1. Brighten with Fill Light. I love to do this because it removes the imperfections easily and adds a glow to the photo.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
  2. Contrast with Shadows. Depending on how dark or light I want my photos, I’ll play with this until it looks right. With the original photo here on the left, you can see that adding a bit of Fill Light and Shadows really enhanced the image. I don’t do any Cropping at this stage because I may need some of the outer edges of the image for the card.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
  3. Next I might try making it a Black and White photo, which is as simple as a single button. Sometimes there I’ll play with the Fill Light and Shadows again to make sure the photo looks perfect.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
  4. And last, I add a Blur photos to really draw the eye to the moment of the photo rather than the patterns and textures around the edges.
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
    Creating your birth announcements from photo tips to birth announcement designs #peartreegreetings
Are you struggling to find good photos for your Christmas cards? Or maybe you just need one or two more photos to fill out a card that has a lot of spaces for photos? At Pear Tree we see a lot of creative Christmas card photo ideas from our customers that aren’t what you’d expect to see, but that’s why we love them. Here are some alternative photo ideas you can borrow for your cards!

Pets as family members: A photo of your pet always brings a smile. Does he know any tricks? Even better.
Alternative Christmas card photo ideas for you to use on this year's cards! #christmascards #peartreegreetings #pets
Alternative Christmas card photo ideas for you to use on this year's cards! #christmascards #peartreegreetings #pets

tips for working with your wedding photographer
Ideas and tips for working with your wedding photographer #wedding #photographytips #peartreegreetings
Your wedding day is special and unique, just like the two of you. Selecting your wedding photographer is important because once the day is over, you want to be sure every moment was captured perfectly, from the small details of the flowers, to walking down the aisle, to your first wedding dance. Here are 3 tips to help you work with your photographer to get the wedding photos you want. 
We’ve all gotten them in the mail. The Christmas cards with the wonderfully sunny photos that make us think of warm breezes and summer vacations. Why not be that family this year?

All you have to do is remember to take a few photos while on your summer vacation. No pre-planning or pressure involved, unless of course you can’t resist a few props or wardrobe ideas. But the idea is to show off your spontaneous fun-loving side, and let friends and family know you didn’t sit on the couch all year. Here’s proof!Summer photo ideas that make great photos from Christmas cards! #summer #peartreegreetingsSummer photo ideas that make great photos from Christmas cards! #summer #peartreegreetings

Baby Photo Ideas
Your new baby is the focus, of course, but you also want to have a little fun with your baby announcement photos, right? What to do? Here are 5 of our top baby photo ideas to add personality and share your hopes and dreams for this new little person in your life!

1. Little Baby. Big Plans.
Top 5 Baby Photo Ideas for your new bundle of joy! #peartreegreetings #babyphotos #birthannouncements Top 5 Baby Photo Ideas for your new bundle of joy! #peartreegreetings #babyphotos #birthannouncements

2. Baby clothes are always cute.
Top 5 Baby Photo Ideas for your new bundle of joy! #peartreegreetings #babyphotos #birthannouncements Top 5 Baby Photo Ideas for your new bundle of joy! #peartreegreetings #babyphotos #birthannouncements

I absolutely LOVE how our wedding photos turned out from our wedding day back in September! We went to a very nice, open park in a nearby town. The colors were vibrant and it even had a wooden bridge as another option for a photo background. I wanted to share with you my top 5 wedding photo ideas to inspire you for your wedding day.

1. Include ALL family members.
His + Hers = Ours: Wedding Photo Ideas #weddingphotoideas #peartreegreetings #weddingideas
If you have been following along in the His + Hers = Ours series you know that Scott and I are very proud owners of a pup named Lola. She is an adorable Springer Spaniel and she has been a part of our family for two years now so she was a must for a photo on this exciting day. It’s my absolute favorite.

2. Capture funny moments.
His + Hers = Ours: Wedding Photo Ideas #weddingphotoideas #peartreegreetings #weddingideas
This photo pretty much sums up our relationship – laughing, ALWAYS. She was my matron of honor and I am so happy we have this memory. It’s perfect.

Valentine's Day Photo Ideas

We invited a bunch of kids to Pear Tree for a photo shoot, and created this video so we could show you some fun photography tips for Valentine’s Day that you can recreate at home. We had the kids dress in Valentine’s Day colors of pink and red, then created three different white backdrops that would make them stand out. Then we put the photos in our favorite new Valentine’s Day cards to see how they’d look!

V-Day Banner Wall
Watch this! Valentine's Day Photo Ideas #peartreegreetings #valentinesdayideas
Watch this! Valentine's Day Photo Ideas #peartreegreetings #valentinesdayideasWe chose a blank white wall and draped a simple banner across the top, made from our free Valentine’s Day printable. Set a chair or fluffy rug in front of it for kids to sit on and you’ve got yourself a set for the photo shoot. Props like heart-shaped suckers are sure to bring smiles. 

Getting ready to take family photos can be a daunting task filled with questions. (What should we wear? Where should we go? How do we get a photo that doesn’t look forced?) We asked a couple of our favorite photographers for some photography tips that might help you feel better prepared for your upcoming photo session.

Tips from Christy Bode Photography & Sarah Halstead Photography:

1. Find someone who shares your style.
Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
When choosing a photographer, make sure you like their style and their quality of work by reviewing their website, blog and Facebook page. If you only ‘sort of like’ their photos, or ‘sort of like’ their style, definitely keep searching! You want to love your images and finding a photographer with a style you love is the first step. ~Christy

2. Plan what to wear.
Photography Tips from Photographers
This is the most common question I get from families. My advice is to definitely plan your outfits ahead of time. Doing this will help you love your photos even more. With that said, it doesn’t need to be stressful, and don’t be afraid to ask your photographer for help or ideas. I typically recommend dressing the girls first, then go to the boys. If you have all boys like I do, that means starting with yourself. ~Christy

Photography Tips from Photographers Themselves
It is best to color coordinate versus matching. For example, if everyone is wearing the same solid color colored shirt, it may end up looking more like a uniform. Family photos are fun-everyone should get to show their personality! I recommend choosing an outfit scheme of 3-4 colors. Textures and layers show up nicely in photos. Always avoid logos. Timeless looks are the best vs. a current trend. Simple attire with solid colors or small patterns is key! ~Sarah