With the holidays just around the corner parents everywhere are looking for that perfect picture. The picture that works for the Christmas cards. The picture that can be a Hanukkah present for Bubbe and Zaydee. The picture that portrays your babies as you see them; amazing. While professional photos are always timeless and make lovely gifts, parents with their own cameras can capture pictures that show their child as they see them. The looks that are reserved only for mom and dad. Getting a great picture of your favorite mini people doesn’t always have to be done by a professional. You too can get Christmas card worthy shots on your own.

First put down your iPhone. Yes, it has a wonderful camera. No you shouldn’t use it for your family portrait or even pictures you’d like hung on a wall. Those cameras are better left for sharing fun moments via text, Twitter or Facebook. Holiday pictures, or ones you’d like to keep longer than the life of your phone should be taken with a camera.

With your camera in hand make sure to lock focus on your lovely subjects. To do so you’ll ensure a nice clear image that features your children as it was intended to. Many cameras now come with a light that indicates locked focus, or little boxes that show up once the cameras focused on an object.

Frame your subjects. Keep in mind heads. If your youngest child is a foot shorter than your oldest and you have them all standing, making sure you’re far enough back will help ensure everyone’s heads get into the picture.

The closer the better. I love close up pictures. Ones that show your child as if they were right in front of you. Get close. Fill the frame up with your babies face. Capture those eyes.

Keep it fun. So you’re so over the stiff posed pictures of Christmases past? Great. Get your kids together and make them laugh. Some of the best pictures are those of children with their heads thrown back in a fit of laughter. Grandma and Grandpa are going to love hanging those lovely smiles in their homes.

Now you’ve got the perfect picture. It’s in focus, everyone’s eyes are open and smiles are gleaming. You just know it’s going to be the Christmas card that stays up on the fridge until Easter. But what do you do now? How can you make it better? Regardless of the photo editing software you’re using you can make a few quick edits that will ensure your images are in tip top shape.

First make sure it’s straight. Does your Christmas tree look like the Tower of Pisa? Crop it and turn your image so that things are all straight.

Is little Johnny’s face a little dark? Lighten it up. Make sure you’re whole image is bright without taking anything so bright it looks funny.

Contrast. Play with that contrast until you get a look you’re happy with.

Have a sharpen option? Use it. When you print your images they tend to look “softer” or less sharp as they did on your computer screen. So sharpen them a bit so that your little ones lovely eyelashes stay as perfect in print as they look to you on your computer.

With these tips and your camera you’re sure to get some wonderful pictures this holiday season. Remember, it doesn’t have to be shot by a professional to be loved.

Thanks Tammie Halcomb for these great tips!