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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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