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Tips for Taking a Holiday Photo that Won’t Make You Cringe

Tips for Taking a Holiday Photo that Won’t Make You Cringe

How are you going to take a professional-quality photo for your holiday card if you don’t know the difference between aperture and ISO speed?

Thanks to today’s tools, you don’t have to be an expert to produce a memorable portrait. All you need is a good eye and some tips from the pros. For example, you might not have considered that a good photo happens thanks to what you do before, during, and after you take a photo. Here’s what I learned while talking to some pros.

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Pre-Photo Shoot

There are several things you can do before you even get in front of the camera to ensure you take a high-quality photo. Here are some things that professional photographers will tell you:

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  • Plan out your wardrobe. You don’t need to wear matching Christmas outfits, but everyone in the photo should, for example, be dressed in a similar level of casual or formal wear. Simplicity is the key.
  • Pay attention to your color scheme, as photos will look better if the people in them are wearing complementary colors and tones. It not only looks better, but it also signals that you have put thought and preparation into the photo. Plan your wardrobe as if you were creating one outfit.
  • Keep patterns, slogans, and logos to a minimum (or avoid them altogether). Dramatic clothing choices can pull focus away the rest of your family and “date” the photo too quickly.

Day of the Photo Shoot

When it comes to location, taking your family photo at home is the most convenient choice. Select a spot that gets good natural light, or one where you can easily adjust the light if necessary.

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  • Evaluate your setting in advance. Consider where the photo will be taken, whether in a casual or formal location. Bring in lights, timers, tripods, and other necessary equipment required for the location. Remember that lighting should be placed behind the photographer.
  • Consider adding props to your photo: photography studios use a variety of props to enhance a setting. Even though this is not necessary, you can add a poinsettia or wreath to signify the time of year.
  • Add the people and pets last—this way, you can get a natural shot quickly before everyone tires of the process (photographer included).
  • Make sure you have fun! Compose the shots to focus on the smiling faces of people and pets, not your decor or location.

You’ve Got the Perfect Shot. Now what?

Upload your image to a site that specializes in creating holiday photo cards. From there, do this:

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  • Choose a holiday-themed backdrop for your card. Try not to change fonts if the backdrop already includes them, because the designer had a good reason for choosing a specific font.
  • If the backdrop doesn’t include fonts, just use one, as the wrong mix of fonts can make a card look unprofessional. Choose something simple, so the viewer’s attention remains on your photo.
  • When selecting your envelopes, postage, and ink, keep your eye on matching or complementary design details. For example, when possible, match the same pattern or font to the envelope, and select an ink color to address the cards that matches, too.

These tips work together to ensure that your family has a professional-quality holiday photo, without splurging on the cost of a professional photographer. You’ll be happy to send your photo to family and friends across the country, and make sure you display it proudly in your own home, too.

Featured photo credit:  Couple walking at alley in night lights via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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