As I said last week, our Christmas cards have turned into quite the ordeal over the years. The first year was really thrown together at the last minute. Sheldon had this idea to take a picture of us dressed up fancy in front of a fireplace with the dogs, I had an idea of us in ugly Christmas sweaters. We couldn't decide which to take so we took both and I photoshopped the Christmas sweater pic over the mantle like it was the previous year's photo. We don't have a fireplace so we went to a friends house who has one and he took our photo. It was pretty frantic and all done in like 10 minutes.
The next year, we had a plan in place early on, then Bella passed away and we decided we didn't want to do our photo without her. But at the last minute, I got the bug and made our costumes for a blog party I was a part of and then turned our dining room into a winter wonderland in one afternoon when Sheldon was away. Could you imagine coming home to this?
We added Bella's embroidered portrait to the tree so she could be in the photo with us. I'm still sad that we didn't get to have her in the photo with her little antlers on. It would have been sooo cute! The only thing photoshopped into this picture is the text "happy holidays". We opted to print these as photos really cheaply through bonusprint who at the time was the cheapest for getting 125 5x7s printed. I backed these cards with card stock and a message from us and Dewey's paw print.
I thought I'd share our process for any of you that might want to do the same thing next year.
We usually think of ideas for our card all year long. Sheldon is really great at coming up with the idea for the card and I'm really good at all the visual details and technical issues (basically putting his idea to life). This year we had a really awesome idea (The Grinch) and then we got Dash and couldn't really figure out how to fit him into our plan so Sheldon decided it would be fun for the photo to be of us opening presents on Christmas morning with him being disheveled and bummed to open the box with Dewey and me being excited to open the box with the new puppy.
Every year I try to find some kind of visual for me to get my creative juices flowing. This image conveyed what we wanted the first year. Last year was of course elf. This year I came across this photo on pinterest and knew it would be the visual inspiration for our photo this year.
The next thing I do is combine Sheldon's idea with the visual inspiration and start making a list of what we will need to pull off our photo. This year was actually really easy. We have a huge roll of kraft paper that we wrap all of our presents with and we had a bunch of chalk left over from our wedding (backdrop finished). I had two sets of sock monkey pajamas that we could wear to be cute and matchy and we had boxes from previous craft show props we could put the dogs in. We also set up a time-line.
We usually set one day to do all the set-up and photography. This year since the backdrop was so big, getting everything done in one day was a must because it covered the whole wall (door included) in our living room.We ended up having to do it all in an evening after work because our weekends were all crazy. In one night, we (me and my friend Meg) drew the backdrop. Then it took the three of us to hang it up.
It was probably 11 by the time all of that was finished. Then I set up the camera (with our remote) and lighting. This is when the fun happens. We had a lot of issues with the dogs this year and had to call in reinforcements (you can see the outtakes below). Levi came over and was able to keep the dog's attention enough for us to get enough photos. He would make a sound to get them to look at him then take the photo using the remote. He really was a lifesaver this year.
Edit, Design, and Print
I edited this photo pretty minimally. I smoothed out the background and lightened it up a bit. We usually just pop the photo into a pre-made photo card design. Last year we didn't but it was a lot of work making the backs for all of the cards. Picking a design is always hard for us. Sheldon doesn't like anything too girly and of course I always go for pink ;) The photo is always the most important part though is it's often difficult to find a pre-made layout that works with the photo. This year, I just happened to come across a perfect one! The colors matched and everything!! Next year, we're picking out the design we want before we take the photo so I can make sure the photo will fit the card.
Like I said, it is a process, but it's worth it in the end. We always have fun and end up with a great photo in the end. And I didn't say this before but Sheldon hates being photographed unless we're doing something silly so this is pretty much my only way to get photos of us together ;)
Ok, Ok, Here are the outtakes from the last two years. I lost the photos from the first year when our laptop got stolen :(