Holiday Card Design Advice

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is when the cards start coming in. I hang the cards on my wall, and thanks to the popularity of photo cards, before long I have my own little gallery up. It’s great!

Here are some thoughts about what I personally think makes a holiday card really pop!

1. In my opinion, card recipients want to see a clear, beautiful portrait of you and your family/kids/dog, front and center. Choose a design that makes your photo the feature of your card by avoiding designs that take up half the card with sentiments. The sentiments are lovely, of course! but even better is your smile. If you do choose a more elaborate card, use very simple photos (like tight headshots) so that there are not competing design elements, creating a busy, un-peaceful mess.

2. If you’d like your family’s photo to be the featured photo, zoom in on the action - your faces! Sure, you may have gone to the beach this summer and want to share that news, but a beach shot where your family is tiny in the frame just doesn’t feature you the way your card-recipients want to see. Save a shot of your guys burying each other in the sand for the backside of the card, which will contribute to telling a little story about your year!

At right is the original crop, which I zoomed in on for the best effect on the card. When zooming in, be conscious not to crowd the subject by coming in too tight.

At right is the original crop, which I zoomed in on for the best effect on the card. When zooming in, be conscious not to crowd the subject by coming in too tight.

4. After you have a well-lit, nicely cropped shot of the whole family for the cover photo (or maybe just the kids, that’s cool too), use the back of the card to share photos that tell the story of your family. Avoid similar photos - four pictures of your kids from the waist-up smiling in the same manner is kind of boring. A shot of your daughter playing a game of soccer and another of your son engrossed in a project are more interesting, and for those who haven’t seen your kids in years or perhaps haven’t even met them, well, they’ve just learned something about your child! Also, if you’ve included a nice cover photo of the whole family looking into the camera, you don’t need a replica shot on the backside, so - go candid!

5. For the sake of this exercise, I am using photos taken during a session with me. When using photos like this scenario (all from the same day with the same clothing worn), create variety and visual interest by choosing photos that vary in style, and remember that some of the best shots are of people not looking directly into the camera. Especially if you already have the facing-the-camera-and-smiling shot on the front. If you have some portraits of the kids you’re dying to use, change the crops so they portraits don’t have an identical feel to them, and the layout has some size variation.

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In this card sample above, the top right photo was originally shot in the same manner as the bottom left photo. So, to prevent visual repetitiveness, I zoomed the top right portrait in. The other two shots are fun and less formal, bringing in even more personality to the whole collection of shots.

Click on the thumbnails below and roll your mouse over the opened photos to read more tips. Again, these are all made from shoots during my sessions, but I encourage you to add your favorite candid shots from the year to share with your recipients! (I used to create these cards samples).

Happy designing!

We are FRamily!

When Lizzi got in touch with me to ask if she and her friends could hire me to do a fRamily (family made-up of friends) session, I was ALL IN! Five families, the parents all buddies from college, were bracing themselves to say goodbye to one of their families before they moved away.

The group hired me to do some big group shots, then we used the remaining time to get individual family shots, candids of the kids, some siblings pics, and any other group shots requested.

While I felt for them losing part of their group, it was such a great idea and I was so happy to be there to shoot some photos for this tight group of friends!

Love and Music

John and Peter used to live in my parents’ neighborhood. I was always pleased to bump into them at weddings we were all working at, and at various community events. They moved to the countryside a little while ago, so I was happy to hear they’d won a bid on a photo shoot with me a while back at a local fundraiser before they moved. Now that I no longer shoot weddings and they have moved away, I do not see their friendly faces much at all anymore.

Since their auction win allowed them to use their session in any way they like, we created a smorgasbord photo session. II had a blast making a headshot for Peter who is a practitioner of Structural Integration, in addition to playing the violin, and a headshot for John who plays cello. The minute I saw their cool practice space, I knew I would need to shoot John a bit more extensively, and he obliged. And of course, we made use of the time to get awesome shots of the two of them together too!

Quite productive!

Calling All Seniors!

Years ago I had the pleasure of photographing Cait for her senior portraits. I had such a blast that I was left wondering why on Earth I wasn’t doing more senior portraits.

Since then I have failed to collect senior portrait clients. Mostly this is because I never think to promote my services during senior portrait season. Like now actually! Senior portrait season starts in the spring, and yet here I am promoting my services at the end of summer.

Smooth Cyd. Real smooth.

I love working with teens. They love to be photographed, take direction well, and bring ideas to the table. So, I hope I get to have more in front of my lens.

In the meantime, you can find more info about a deal I’m running until November 1. If you happen to know a junior or senior who might be interested, please let them know!


Johnson String Catalog

If you’ve visited my blog recently you may have already caught a glimpse of the shots I took for Johnson String Instrument . I wanted to share how those images got used in their annual catalog for 2019-20.

The catalog was designed by Pat Nieshoff Design, and you can see the full catalog HERE.

As always, click to enlarge the images.


Just a sampling from a shoot I did recently for Johnson String Instrument annual catalog. Everybody was great to work with, as always. C, in the jeans top, was charming and has the most amazing skin! And E, in the red and white dress (and on the big comfy chair), I mean c’mon! How can you not smile when you see it’s clear that she loves to laugh? (Oh, and the grown-ups were fine to work with too )

And They're Off! {boston graduation photographer}

Last year I had the great pleasure of following the Boston University Dance Team through their competition season for picture story for BU Today. You can see the story here. I was in my happiest place when I was a fly on the wall documenting their hard work, their camaraderie, their challenges and triumphs. It was one of my favorite work things to happen last year.

Since then, I occasionally see some of the dancers on campus. I would give them a big hug and enjoy a quick chat before they rushed to their next class on campus.

When Nina contacted me at the end of this year asking if I would photograph some of dancers from last year who are now seniors, I was so excited to see them again and photograph them! This time was a bit different since they were not pushing their bodies to the limit perfecting dance routines (it was a bit more chill this time around), but I really loved being able to chat with them and hear about where they are headed next. We wandered campus photographing each grad in front of her college, did various group and single shots, and of course, got them stepping on the crest (which i recently learned we’ve been incorrectly referring to as a “seal” for many many years) - a BU superstition.

Congratulations, Terriers!

family Snowball fight! {boston family photographer}

Heather comes up with great photo shoot ideas for her family sessions. You can find a few shots from last year’s Family Photo session in the wrap up gallery, where her daughters Alana and Nadia are riding bikes in their pretty dresses and showing off their soccer ball skills - also in their dresses (which makes them young women after my own heart!).

A few weeks ago I got an email from Heather saying she had this idea about having the family session in the snow; shots of them sledding and having a snowball fight, etc. We would need to wing it a bit, we both agreed, since the session depended on weather. I was in!

Weather and scheduling worked in our favor and on Saturday I went to their place and had a ball watching them have a ball…while making snowballs.

The highlight for me was when we were setting up a shot of everyone throwing the snowball in my direction and Alana claimed “I have terrible aim!” then promptly nailed me right in the face. It was pretty much perfect!

Rowan is Here! {boston Family and baby photographer}

My friend Sheila had a baby! His name is Rowan and he is a delightful, adorable little peanut. Sheila and Steve’s first child, Meera, is super fun, and I learned at my New Year’s Eve party that she’s a My Little Pony fan so we’re pretty much BFFs now.

Sheila called me to do a newborn photography session and it turned into a family photo session, including a doting uncle and grandma too! Rowan is delightful and very loved and no doubt his big sister will teach him how to be mischievous in the best way possible!

As always, click on the block to enlarge!

Boston Family Holiday Sessions!

Tis the season for holiday photos! This weekend was no different. Both sessions took place in beautiful Boston. The first was Rachael along with her kids, and their cousins which made for a fun and super fashionable cute-fest. Next was Pam’s family who came dressed in their best. Even their pup Murphy was sporting a matching bandana!

The results were fun, charming, and a lovely nod to our beloved city!

Surprise! Debbie is 70! {boston area event photographer}

Tammy found me through my friend Amanda and I’m so glad she did! It’s been a long time since I stopped photographing weddings, so a fun, reception/party situation was a sweet addition to my season.

From the minute Tammy’s mom Debbie walked through the door and was greeting with cheers at her surprise party, it was clear that she is very loved. You could see it in her beaming smile as she regarded all her friends in the room, welcoming them and yelling with joy to one “I thought you were in Florida!”. The admiration of her could be seen in the faces of her friends and family beaming back at her, hugging her, and dancing with her when the doo-wop group showed up and performed.

May we all have a fun party like this at some point in our lifetime!
(click to enlarge)

How Could I Forget Violet?! {Boston newborn photography}

To be fair I haven’t forgotten Violet, it’s just that she’s probably old enough to vote by now (make good voting choices, Violet!)

I had a delightful time last year photographing Raymond , who is the first-born to high school classmate of mine, Alison, so I was very happy to hear from Allison again! This time, it’s a girl! Violet was a sweet little love to be sure, and photographing their growing family was something I really appreciate being given the opportunity to do.

On the wall in Alison and Ed’s home was the family photo I’d taken last year - I love seeing that! It’s not just because I took it (though that is a source of pride), but I always hope that my clients will get a chance to actually print their photos after going through all the scheduling and outfit choosing and primping for a session.

It makes me feel good to know that they are actually enjoying the fruits of our collective efforts!