Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving (here in the U.S., anyway), which means it’s officially time to get your holiday on. It’s also the perfect opportunity to improve your photo skills.
One of the biggest advantages that professional photographers have over us non-professionals (other than awesome photography gear) is that they are out shooting photos for a purpose. They’re not just capturing moments; they’re creating them. And something about that process of trying to execute an idea using photography makes them a little smarter than they were before, regardless of whether their idea even works out.
A real photo assignment!
As non-professionals, we don’t naturally get that opportunity. We may snap a lot of photos, but without an end product in mind, there’s little risk – or reward. That, dear reader, is where the holiday card comes in.
Think about it. Doing your own holiday card is the perfect photography kick in the pants:
- You’re the client; you can do whatever you want, but you have to do something!
- You have a deadline, so you can’t procrastinate!
- Sending your card to friends and family is a safe audience for your photography work
- You’ll wish you did some part of it differently, better, etc. This is how you learn and why this makes you better!
A word about printing
You gotta print it, right? I guess you could email your card out, but that’s lame. Here are your basic printing options:
- Use a local print shop: This is what I’ve done the last several years. It’s the most expensive of these options, but it’s also the easiest and I get to see a proof before it goes out to the world.
- Use an online photo service: I’m a big fan of Shutterfly for getting prints of digital photos (disclosure: that’s my affiliate link). The quality is excellent, and they have several options for turning your photos into a greeting card format. It’s inexpensive, but you have to wait on the mail.
- Use your own printer. I recommend this be your last option, as the pain-in-the-butt factor is pretty high. Plus, with the cost of ink, it’s more expensive than it seems.
For your inspiration
Here are a few of my cards from recent years that I hope will inspire you. Most of these involved some heavy Photoshop work, but they ALL have good ol’ fashioned photography as their foundation.
Making my own holiday card has been a tradition in my family for the last 11 years, and each year I pick up a new chestnut of photo-knowledge. We tend to learn by doing, and this is great way to “do” photography. You’ve still got time. Get cracking! Good luck!