Top 5 Ways to Create the Best Holiday Portrait

The holidays are right around the corner and the time has come to start planning for your family holiday portraits. Before the weather gets cold, make the time to capture images of your loved ones to share.  Learn what to keep in mind when photographing for holiday portrait.

  1. Location, Location, Location. – A great location can really spice up your holiday portrait.  Consider trying something fun and different. NYC is full of very interesting urban landscapes, cobblestone streets, warehouses, graffiti walls, etc. You can also use a chalkboard wall and write something on it, or a plain white back-drop. Greenery and flowers are great too but not as original. Regardless, keep in mind that the background be rather simple so that your family, are the stars of the show.
  2. Expression – Your child/children’s expression is what makes the card. Joyous, silly, fun, sweet, and kooky are only a few emotions that kids often exemplify. It’s up to you which sentiment you would like to highlight in your card. You will know it when you see it! Try to evoke a variety of expressions by making them laugh so that their little faces light up on camera.
  3. 3.    Theme – Sometime a theme can work nicely. Last year I took my kids to a small farm and dressed them up like characters in the Wizard of Oz. Some people like to be more traditional and put their kids in beautiful clothing sitting on a couch. Your style and what you like is most important.
  4. Props – Props can really add to the image and overall look and feel of the photograph. Holiday stars can be held or thrown in the air; You can wrap your kids in holiday lights, put them in cute Santa or winter hats, have them hold balloons, dress them in pajamas, etc.
  5. Lighting – Available light or natural light looks best. Window light is soft and lovely if it’s too cold to go outside. Find the direction of your light source and place your subject accordingly so the light is behind you.

If all else fails, you can always hire a professional.

If you choose a professional photographer to photograph your family, view their website to see if you like their style and vision before contacting them. Make sure to discuss location, wardrobe, best time of day for shooting, and if you have any specific ideas for location, props, or poses. Don’t be shy to express your needs.

I recommend using a small boutique photography business, like mine, that is well regarded and run by one person rather than a large studio or storefront. These businesses tend to put a lot of time and emphasis on building rapport with clients and giving personal attention and an overall personalized experience.

For more information and examples of things to keep in mind when photographing family, and a basic understanding of how to use your Digital SLR go to

Holiday Card


About Karen Haberberg Photography


Karen Haberberg’s focus on portrait and event photography has earned her a reputation for capturing her subject’s true inner spirit. Urban Baby says, “Her relaxed photos celebrate little ones displaying the precious sentiments we so often associate with kids – bewilderment, awe, delight”.

Today, she is recognized as one of the top family and event photographers in NYC.

The devotion to her art and clients has resulted in building a photography business dedicated to making artwork for people to appreciate. Her images have been exhibited and published in a variety of venues and magazines.

She has a Masters degree in Fine Art Photography from NYU and the International Center of Photography. She also teaches photography at the 92y, NYU, JCC in Manhattan and the ICP.