How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos

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It’s easy to take your own holiday photos! Click for simple tips and learn to make an easy, modern photo backdrop for your Christmas cards.

How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos
How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos

I think I’ve been sending Christmas cards to family and friends since I was in college. It’s a tradition I just love and I look forward to it all year.

For the last couple of years we’ve put together our own photo cards, from start to finish, and I thought it would be awesome to show you how!

Over the years we’ve done it all — created a DIY backdrop, took our own photos, edited them, and ordered through Minted, which has been my very favorite way to get snail mail greetings printed for years now.

Psst — before you dive in, be sure to sign up below for my VIP group, where I’ll send more of my very best holiday and family ideas straight to ya.

Take Your Own HOliday Photos with a DSLR or iPhone

We’ve been taking our own holiday photos for years with my Canon DSLR camera, but you could just as easily do it with an iPhone (especially now that smartphone cameras are such high quality.

DSLR Setup. If you’re using a camera like my Canon (or something simliar), you’ll need the camera and a tripod. I love this Manfrotto tripod in my equipment setup, but if you’re a hobby photographer you can use something less intense like this one.

Once you set up your camera on the tripod, be sure to have a family member stand in the shot and set the focus so that the depth of field is accurate and your family’s faces will be sharp.

I love using a remote shutter when we take our own holiday photos. You can adjust your camera’s settings to the 2 second self timer mode, connect the remote shutter, and then hold the remote in your hand to fire the shutter.

This way, you don’t have to run back and forth to the camera to hit the 10 second timer button for every shot.

iPhone Setup. If you’re working with an iPhone, you’ll also need a tripod or some method of propping it up. A simple smartphone tripod does the trick!

If you have an Apple Watch, you can connect your watch to the phone and use your watch’s screen to fire the shutter. If not, use the 10 second timer setting on your iPhone’s camera options to snap your photos.

How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos

Figuring Out How to Pose

This part can stump some people! If you’re not terribly comfortable in front of a camera it can feel awkward trying to figure out what to do with your body.

I have an entire post dedicated to this part, which you can read right here.

But here are some quick tips: I recommend starting with a more “planned” pose — get together in front of the Christmas tree, or sit cozily together on the couch, or find one of your favorite outdoor spots and get close.

Once you have a few posed shots that you like, let loose a little! Dance, be silly, don’t be afraid to move around. Have one member in the family or group hold on to the remote shutter and just snap away while you play.

You’ll definitely get lots of outtakes, but you’re bound to end up with a few gems as well.

DIY Backdrop Ideas for Holiday Photos

I’m sharing a tutorial on how we created the black plaid backdrop for our 2015 holiday photos below!

But before you check that out, did you know that I have one of the most extensive photo backdrop libraries online? They’ve been my specialty for many years.

I took a moment to round up some favorites. Check them out and pin the ones you like the best so that you can easily find them again.

How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos

Make a plaid Photo Backdrop


  • black posterboard
  • scissors or paper cutter
  • glue dots
  • black washi tape
  • smartphone level

Make Time: 1.5 Hours

How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos
  1. Cut your black posterboard into 2-inch strips. Start placing the strips in lines on the wall, about 7 feet tall (unless you have some really tall people in your photo!). Use glue dots to affix the strips to the wall, and the level on your smartphone to make sure they’re straight.
  2. Add horizontal stripes in the same way; make your stripes about 6 feet wide.
  3. Add thin stripes of washi tape over your wide stripes, on every other row to create a plaid pattern.
  4. Take your photos and have fun!

What To Wear In Holiday Family Photos

For our holiday photos, I like to wear clothes that are colorful, cozy, and not super coordinated but in a relatively similar color palette.

But the real answer is: wear whatever your family feels comfortable and most like yourselves in! If you feel good, you’ll look great. Happy snapping! xoxo

How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos
How to Take Your Own Holiday Photos

This post was originally sponsored by Minted. This post also contains affiliate links for your convenience. This means that I make a small commission should you make a purchase via one of these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you as always for your support! 

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