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What makes a card-worthy photo? {Win a Shutterfly promo code!}

by Nicole

Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a a lifestyle blog about creativity, family life, community, and all sorts of other fun stuff, and also keeps a homeschool journal called The Bennettar Academy. Her most recent (free!) ebook is about why and how to make more time for reading.

Written by editor Nicole Bennett of Gidget Goes Home

One of my favorite part of the holiday season is creating a Christmas card, and of course, receiving cards from from friends and loved ones.

When I think of what makes a card-worthy photo, I think of one that really expresses who we are as a family. This year, I chose one of Shutterfly”s cards that is two-sided, so I could include some of my favorite IG snapshots on the back.

A family portrait session doesn”t always bring out the best in my five, two and one year-old… maybe that”s just my kids? 😉 I love the sweet moments that I can capture with my phone and preserve with Instagram. So often those little glimpses provide better insight into life in the Bennett family, and that”s what I want to send to our friends and family.

Have you made your Christmas cards yet?

Photo by my friend Sarah Theis

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to get together with some local blogger friends for a delicious dinner and a chance to chat about the goodies that Shutterfly has to offer. We enjoyed looking at sample photo cards, and photo books brought in showcasing our own cute kids– even our waitress was intrigued by the photo mugs that my friend Jessica brought along.

Shutterfly has a new website this year all about family photos, including tips on taking/choosing a card-worthy photo and making the most of your family photo day. And I can”t recommend their products enough. I just got my 2012 cards in the mail and I just love them!


Would you like a chance to win a special $50 promo code to Shutterfly? Simply leave a comment here telling me how you define what makes a photo card-worthy.

This quick qiveaway ends Monday night, December 10th. Good luck!

Thanks Shutterfly and Jessica for such a fun girl”s night out!

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  1. Mama and Daddy have to look as good as the kids.

  2. Genuine smiles!

  3. The outtakes!

  4. My family has to be relaxed and smiling, not posed. Besides that I find that photos shot outside in natural late afternoon light are usually winners.

  5. Playful, happy moments, and real, natural smiles.

  6. It has to capture everyone’s real personalities

  7. First of all, mama’s got to look good. Then it’s all about the kids looking natural. The daddy in our house always looks good.

  8. A realistic picture, character. Something memorable and fun.

  9. Capturing the personality of my children!

  10. You’ve got to capture the personality of the person in the picture. It can be beautiful but if it doesn’t show who they really are, forget it.

  11. I’ve got to look good. Dad and I have to not look like we just told the kids to stop what they’re doing. And everyone needs natural smiles. If we’re all looking at the camera that’s a bonus. A candid shot were we all look like we love each other – even better.

  12. I love the pictures that show my children’s true personalities, ones where they are laughing, joking, and playing.

  13. I try for smiles with my kids, but end up with silly faces most of the time. Whatever makes them look natural makes me happy!

  14. I have to admit I love a photo where everyone is looking at the camera and giving a real smile. I like the impromptu ones, but for my cards I like to see everyone’s smiling face. I actually got one of those this year with a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old in the photo…the baby wasn’t exactly smiling, but she was close!

  15. Your cards are so cute! I love the giant smiles in the one on the left :)

    And I’m jealous of you SoCal bloggers and your get-togethers. So glad everyone had a good time.

    We’re doing Christmas cards this year for the first time in a while, and what I most valued was getting all six of us in the same picture! Anything besides that was bonus.

  16. I hope you do not stop writing these great articles!

  17. Great, natural light can make even a sleep-deprived Momma look good!

  18. I’ll take anything that’s a decent representation of all involved (photos don’t bring out the best in anyone in our family, I’m afraid).

  19. a card worthy photo is any photo that shows love … family love, vacation love, love of everything and anything

  20. A worthy photo has to be relaxed and representative of what my family is really like! :)

  21. At this point with a little one and a dog in the picture the goal is eyes open, looking at camera without making weird faces.

    In the future it’ll be capturing moments of laughter and life in action.

  22. avatar
    beth kuligowski says:

    i like photos in which people look happy and it is great if their personalities are on display as well!

  23. I love cards that are relaxed looking and display families true personalities.

  24. A great photo calls to mind a great memory. I love when personalities shine through the photo.

  25. Pictures that make me smile.

  26. It captures real life. This year we have a nice family photo that I would use for the front of the card but on the back, included in other glimpses of “real life”, would be a photo I took of my dad. It was during one of his hospital stays earlier this fall. I was sitting behind him, he is in his chair, watching a cooking show (as always!), with his IV pole next to him. It’s not quite a silhouette, but pretty close. He died on 11/21 and that picture alone shows how I spent much of my year – focused on him, being there with him until the end. There is also a picture of me and my four kiddos on my birthday, 11/22. They had come to dad’s for what was supposed to be a wonderful, last family celebration together. It is not the greatest picture, my husband snapped it with his iPhone, but it represents us well. I posted it on Instagram with the caption, “this is what a tired, emotionally spent, thankful 48 year old mama looks like”. Real life all the way.

  27. A card-worthy photo for us is not blurry, with all four kids looking at the camera, smiling and not giving each other bunny ears.

  28. capturing a true moment whether its a “good pic” or not

  29. avatar
    Jessica Klanderud says:

    I love the photos where the personality of the family comes out. It doesn’t matter if the photo is “good” I prefer it to be real :-)

  30. I love seeing the fun moments of people’s lives… not just the “perfect” picture…

  31. Something that captures the personalities of the subjects!

  32. avatar
    Lindsay A. says:

    I love photos that capture joy and highlight a family’s personalities. I tend to like more natural snapshots from day-to-day life the best.

  33. Natural smiles or natural expressions, when you look at the photo and your throat gets tight thinking of the special people you have been blessed with!

  34. avatar
    Melody Allen says:

    The best ones are where everyone looks natural and relaxed! My favorite of years past was when our 3rd child, boy of age 2, had a mischievous smile…and his tongue was stick out! Everyone else was “nice and pretty.” It was perfect!

  35. A card worthy photo is one where everyone looks happy!

  36. A candid photo that shows the real personaity of the person – difficult with my daughter, who tries to put on photo face, which is actually scary rather than appealing LOL!

  37. I think a card worthy photo can be different things depending on the type of card…silly, traditional, thoughtful…it’s wonderful that we have so many options for card making online these days.

  38. Joy showing through from all of the kids!

  39. One that invokes emotion. It should make you smile, feel joy, or have a genuine “aww” moment. :)

  40. Genuine happiness….and of course, mama has to look pretty decent, too! :)

  41. avatar
    Laura Miller says:

    A picture that is not posed and everyone with geniune smiles having fun.

  42. I like it to showcase the best of my son’s personality. So his picture for his five year interview is him with his hand up, intelligent (or mischevious) glint in his eye – talking. :) getting a genuine smile out of him is rare this age so I just prefer not goofy 😉

  43. sentiment – ever since my son was born we’ve taken a picture on the same bench, no matter the weather, in time for the new year. it’s more personable than the yearly class picture and really shows the growth and change of the child. Friends and family look forward to it every year!

  44. I love when you can see the personalities of my kids in the photo!

  45. Any photo that captures my kids just being who they are. :)

  46. What great tips! Thanks!

  47. Any candid picture that captures the spirit of our family or a posed one where we are all smiling, not blinking, or making a dumb face!

  48. Pictures of the whole family, sweet message, and more pictures. :-)

  49. Anything that makes someone smile when they look at the picture

  50. I like natural shots best of all, not posed ones. They show case the family dynamic much better!

  51. I try and pick a picture that expresses DD’s personality well!

  52. One that you are happy for friends to receive and that is honest. My 2 year old’s favorite doll was in this year’s picture- she wasn’t giving it up for anything that day!

  53. This is a timely post for me, because we usually try to get a family pose on our card, but this year we didn’t end up with a great family shot. I was just talking about it with my husband this morning. I might have to break tradition and do a collage.

  54. Any shot I can get my husband to be in with me! there are exactly 3 to choose from this year :/ I think I might be able to talk him into one more this week so we can order cards

  55. One that shows the person’s personality.

  56. A photo is cardworthy if everyone is looking at the camera and seems happy. I have 2 toddlers, so getting that is a feat.

  57. Real, natural smiles – and laughs are even better. Those are my favorites. :)

  58. We try to go for the ones that capture our true family life, Dad, Mom, 5 little ones (that includes 18 month old twins). They don’t have to be perfect, just real.

  59. I love photos that capture the real moments in families and our lives, instead of the posed pictures. We’ll use some instagram shots on ours this year for sure!!

  60. Any picture that captures the heart and joy of my family is card worthy!! :)

  61. A touch of silly. :)

  62. face,s gotta have faces showing. And no one blurry. Hard to do with Doctor Destructo sometimes!

  63. Smiles….My son has not been into pictures for the last few years so we stopped making Christmas photo cards. It’s always a battle to get him to smile…Things seem to be looking up, so maybe next year? :)

  64. One where all 7 of us are actually smiling for the camera! In focus helps too :)

  65. It just has to show who we are as a family. Everyone doesn’t need to look perfect- just their wonderful personalities need to shine thru.

  66. I like a Christmas card photo to have a few on them. One of the entire family posing, one of them goofing around together, and one of each of the kids in there element. Whatever that may be.

  67. it needs to have the WHOLE family, not just the kiddos – we want to see everyone! 😉

  68. I like something that captures the spirit of my family. Usually this does not mean a formal photo where everyone is looking at the camera. Last year I used a pic of my daughter pushing my son on a tire swing, it was a great shot of simple summertime fun that made me smile.

  69. I like simple, warm cards.

  70. avatar
    Lauren Simms says:

    When the kids true personalities shine through and mom and dad’s faces don’t look murderous!

  71. I love a card that shows what this year in our lives looks like. Good, bad…. doesn’t matter. I just want the memory.

  72. It shows off who we are.

  73. Snippets of our every days, just capturing us the way we are right now.

  74. When everyone looks truly happy!

  75. A card-worthy photo is one that shows our personalities and will also make the recipient smile. Thanks for the giveaway!

  76. If the lightening is good, but also if it captures the personality of the person.

  77. Natural light and genuine smiles. Action shots are a bonus : ) We usually turn our leaf raking day into our holiday card photo shoot. Nothing says fun like a toddler helping daddy rake or plowing into a pile of leaves!

  78. Genuine expressions and great light!

  79. It has to capture our personalities. And natural smiles!

  80. avatar
    Gabreial W. says:

    I love genuine photos, outdoors, non traditional.

  81. It has to be natural, relaxed, and fun.

  82. For cards I have lofty ambitions: eyes open, pleasant looks on faces, and everyone in the picture. Sadly, I had trouble with that for this year’s card, but luckily Shutterfly offers cards where I can use multiple photos, so I have some of each person that are usable. phew!

  83. No one with a scowl, but no forced smiles either.

  84. A photo that shows the shining personality of our family as a whole, or individuals. I also LOVE some nature shots from our favorite places to put in a collage!

  85. Something that captures the facial expressions that are unique to the child/children (whether’s that’s thoughtful, smiling, or goofy).

    A good photo doesn’t have to be outdoors in natural light (although those can be gorgeous). I’ve gotten some fun, cute cards that showed all the kids and pets in Santa and Elf hats in front of the living room Christmas tree. They don’t have to full-on reverent, either…one year we had a picture of our cat lying in our manger (she liked the straw). Another year it was a picture of the live nativity/manger scene that’s done at the local monastery every year.

  86. avatar
    JB Elliott says:

    I have tons of pictures with my kiddos in all their glory, but I love a whole family shot for a holiday card. While I love, love, love getting picture cards every year from friends and family (and save most of them), I must admit to being a little sad when there’s no hand-written note or update.

  87. What a great idea to use candid instagram pics! I think pictures and an update on the fam is enjoyable to read on the cards. :)

  88. Real smiles… definitely!!

  89. I love when photos capture the joy or innocence of my children. Those are the pics i treasure most.

  90. avatar
    Amanda Steele says:

    something that shows the personalities of my kiddos!

  91. The photos you shoot before and after the posed ones look the best–and take many more than you think you need.

  92. A special moment captured in time. Not posed. Not necessarily smiles all around, but everyone shown in their true emotion of the moment.

  93. The card needs to reflect our style and the picture needs to look like a natural pose of us and neither of us more “fixed” up then we usually are. I love getting Christmas cards and seeing everyone’s different styles!

  94. Candid & genuine moment all the way!

  95. I like smiling faces for cards and hopefully Mom and Dad are in the picture.

  96. I just love when it looks natural or when my kids are doing there best to give silly faces. Precious.

  97. Natural smiles that capture everyone’s personalities:) Clear and not blurry (I have 3 boys in constant motion) is also a plus!

  98. Not too staged and stiff, everyone looks happy and natural, nice setting

  99. I love it when a little bit of each child’s personality shines through their facial expression, pose etc.

  100. avatar
    Deborah Barry says:

    any home made card is an expression of love!