Hip Holidays

by Sarah Kinbar

December 18, 2012

The holiday card—where the family portrait is king—broadcasts a story defining the whole year, usually with one picture. The ingenious photographers featured here reveal what inspired their joyful, revelatory shots.

“Photo booths have been a love of mine for as long as I can remember. Every time I see one, I am in it, along with whomever I’m with, and I have a great collection [of pictures] now. I even collect books of photo booths, and have a photo booth app for my phone! I have been sending these out every year for the past five years, but this card is from last year; I sent it out with a No. 10 envelope with a string and button. Everyone seemed to love it.”

Eve Kakassy • Brooklyn, NY • petitesimone.com

“This shoot taught me to let go and let my children tell the story. For this image, I wanted perfectly posed children, pristinely dressed and cute as buttons. What I got were over-excited beasts that wouldn’t sit still while fighting the process the whole time. When I thought I was going to just scream, I asked them to do it instead. As long as they were screaming, they would stay still long enough (without crying) for me to get a shot. I chose this image for our card because it really shows our loved ones what our life was like at the time...chaos, pristinely dressed and cute as buttons!”

Nicole Kinbarovsky • Austin, TX • eastsidecreative.com

“We have been shooting a personalized Christmas card for 14 years and it’s become the most anticipated correspondence we send to family members. I didn’t plan it this way but over the years it has also become the most sought-after promo I send to clients. During the previous summer, I embarked on a personal project to photograph rally bikers across the American west. For months after, I was editing and retouching graphic, black-and-white portraits of leather-clad bikers covered with tattoos…I came to love how people were living out loud through their tattoos and proud of it. When it came time to shoot our holiday card, I thought it would be a really playful and personal take on Christmas—Santa as a biker. I literally have clients who ask months in advance what we are going to do for our next card. We love the holidays and sharing with family and clients makes the whole season that much richer.”

Michel Leroy • New York, NY • michelleroyphoto.com

“The charm of this card is its raw joy, the cheer expressed by a six-month-old thrilled to smile for the camera. This young, modern couple wanted a simple holiday theme that would let the image shine; this card frames the excitement of their first child in happy purples and yellows, and a nontraditional design. To me, this holiday greeting radiates joy and warmth, even if it’s not red and green. Who wouldn’t love for this happy family to land in their mailbox?”

Anna Powers, Sunbright Sparrow Studio, Orlando, FL • sunbrightsparrowstudio.com

“When commemorating a special milestone, many of our clients opt for a studio shoot as opposed to shooting on-location. In this case, it was Sam’s first Christmas and her first birthday. The clean, white look of the studio allows for the outfits to be more stylized and playful, which our clients really embraced in preparation for their shoot. This shot is a bit of an in-between moment where father and daughter were having some real fun on set, and the camera kind of disappears. We love this image because it fully captures the incredible joy she was experiencing in that moment—complete unadulterated fun…in the way someone that age can! Formally, we love the colors, the composition, and of course how incredibly high she is soaring over her dad’s head.”

Bellamy Blue • New York, NY • bellamyblue.com

“With the sheer size of my daughter’s skirt and hair in these images, I knew a simple, clean backdrop with small pops of texture and color would make a big statement. After salvaging four pole barn doors, I fashioned my ‘outdoor studio,’ hung a chandelier out of the second story of our barn, and emptied out every game box in our closet for the stacks of presents. The picture in my head had a touch of Vogue coupled with seven- and nine-year-olds’ personalities. What a mix!”

Erinn Finlan • Milwaukee, WI • ef-photography.com

[From the client]: “I knew that I wanted to do an indoor shoot after we had done two years outdoors; I wanted to have a white background in a controlled setting, with images about the subject and not the surroundings. I love how the images pop on the white studio background.”

[From the photographer]: “This card arrives in the mail as a small envelope; you open it up, and it’s actually a deck of cards—of the family! The family made the mom the ‘Queen,’ dad the ‘King,’ son the ‘Prince,’ daughter the ‘princess’ and their youngest daughter ‘Joker.’ We had so many great shots from this session, but for these cards, we wanted them all to be somewhat close-up and full smiles. The kids had a great time during this shoot; music was playing in the studio and their spirits show in the photos.”

Michael Jurick • New York, NY• jurick.net


THIS IS HOW WE DO IT
  • Bellamy Blue: “We don’t print cards for our clients. Instead, we direct them to our favorite DIY printers once they receive their custom retouched jpgs from us: Minted, TinyPrints and William Arthur. The cards are gorgeous, fast and inexpensive.”
  • Michel Leroy: “I usually use iPhoto cards or NextDayFlyers.com because you can order smaller quantities. We send out about 125 cards each year. They both have great quality printing and are really easy to use.”
  • Petite Simone: “Mine are handmade by me on my Epson 3800, with Moab paper and acid fee tape.”
  • Michael Jurick: “To achieve the unique ‘deck of cards’ holiday card look, we hired a New York designer who specializes in custom-made invitations. The paper stock was thick to give it some heft, about 120 grams, and we used matte for a classic look.”

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