A digital camera probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of crafts. But there are plenty of reasons to use one when doing projects that involve photographs -- especially holiday cards. A digital camera will let you snap away until you capture just the right mood or expression, without the expense and wait that go with developing multiple rolls of film.
Digital images are easy to edit at home, so you can set errors right -- and your imagination free. The entire card can be produced on your computer. Perfect the image, experiment with fonts, and play with flourishes. Then print and send as many cards as you like.
Digital Photo Card Basics
If you're going to make your cards with digital images, there are some particulars to keep in mind. Most important, use a camera with a minimum 3- to 4-megapixel rating. This will ensure that the photos, whether 4 by 6 inches or 5 by 7 inches, are sufficiently crisp.
Other considerations apply to both film and digital photography. Before you start shooting, for example, clear away clutter. A neat and simple background will keep the focus on your subjects.
Because indirect light is the most flattering, you may want to pose your family several feet away from a curtained window, or turn a lamp so its glow is reflected off the ceiling or a nearby wall -- don't place it directly in front of or behind the subjects. Set the flash to "fill," so that it softens any unflattering shadows but isn't too bright.
If you're shooting outside, avoid the squint-inducing brightness and harsh shadows of high noon. Early morning or golden hour, the time around sunset, are your best options. Once you've snapped the perfect shot, paste your picture onto a card, and write out a greeting. Or use a desktop publishing program to create a layout that includes both a photo and message. Whatever you choose, you'll have a great card to deliver good tidings.
Nine Holiday Photo Card Projects
1. Family Portrait
Greet friends with a jolly carol -- or at least a few lyrics printed in large type (you can download our template). Attach your photo to a photo-frame card. Handwrite your family name (or have a calligrapher do the writing once and have it turned into a rubber stamp).
2. Have a Ball
Snapshots from a snowy day can inspire a card's design. Use a desktop-publishing program to shape photos (and messages) as circles with white borders; print. Cut a backing for each circle; stack each circle with a backing, and trim with deckle-edge scissors. Glue ribbon between layers of circles and backings.
3. Merry Christmas
Playful props -- such as gifts covered with retro lettering -- display good cheer. Print a greeting (or download our template) onto card stock. Cut out letters; glue to wrapped boxes. Print onto digital-photo postcards.
4. Sweet Wishes
Write a greeting that plays off the theme of the photo. With a desktop-publishing program, customize the layout with a banner (or download our template); print on digital-photo paper.
Newborns (and other very young family members) photograph best when they're allowed to be themselves. For a simple but pretty card, coordinate paper and trim with colors in photo. Attach photo to a piece of colored card stock, leaving space for a greeting at the bottom, and fold top over; trim edge with scalloping scissors. Hole-punch top; thread with ribbon.
Playful pajamas and poses spell J-O-Y. Make an accordion card by folding a piece of card stock. With a utility knife, cut notches into panels to hold photos; use one panel for message.
7. Happy Hanukkah
Try cozy "shoot locations" (such as a bedroom), and let your "model" lounge comfortably there (she'll look and feel more relaxed). Download our dreidel template (held in photo) and matching pattern-lined envelope and address label. Position 4-by-6 photo on patterned paper; score paper and cut notches as shown to create an envelope. Glue photo. Write message; seal.
8. Season's Greetings
When it comes to the family portrait, think outside the box. Take a series of snaps for each family member. Ask him or her to look left, right, up, or down with each shot; pick whichever photo is the most flattering. Using a desktop-publishing program, set up a grid, and create picture and text boxes. Import the photos, and scale them so everyone's portrait is the same size.
9. Peace on Earth
If family members are camera-shy, you can always enlist the household pet. Import Kitty's photo into a desktop-publishing program; add a message. Using a utility knife, cut notches into a piece of folded card stock to secure photo.