holiday photo card

Christmas Card Portraits Treasure Island Florida Three Sisters

Holiday photo card portrait with three sisters wrapped in Christmas lights - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70mm @ f/5.6 ISO 100 2.5 sec tripod mounted - Strobist: SB-800 in 43" brolly frame rightLong time DSLR photography student Stacy invited me to her home to photograph her daughters for their family Christmas card.  She said I could bring Kiki along as well (more about this below).  This was an unusual shoot as Stacy worked with me to learn how to make portraits and I used much of her own photography gear (note the use of a Nikon D4 for all these shots!).  I had shown her my wedding couple wrapped in Christmas lights shot before, which we did with the three sisters for the above image.  

Christmas Photo Card portrait three sisters in front of their Christmas Tree - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70m @ f/4 ISO 100 1/200th - Strobist: SB-900 to frame right in 43" brollyWhen editing this black & white image I wanted mainly the lights of the tree to be visible in the background framing the girls.

Smiling in front of Christmas tree bokeh for holiday portrait in Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D4 Nikkor 70-200mm with 2x teleconverter @ f/5.6 ISO 6400 1/60th - natural lightUsing the new 2x teleconverter Stacy recently got, I took advantage of an effective 400mm focal length to create extreme bokeh in the background of the above shot of the same Christmas tree lights used in the B&W shot.  

Holiday Photo Card Portrait before the fireplace in Florida - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70mm @ f/6.3 ISO 100 1/4th tripod mounted - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-900 to frame rightA more formal shot before the lit fireplace, which made things pretty hot for the girls, but throughout our shoot they were great and knew how to get into proper positions unprompted!  It was like working with professional models!

In all the shots Kiki was lying near the girls! It was my first time to bring her on a portrait shoot. Now when I try to photograph Kiki she is never happy about it and ends up looking like a sad puppy (see here).  However, she was all too willing to get into every photo with the girls and smile!  For the piano shot we let a sleeping dog lie and framed the portrait around her.  She just wanted to participate and be involved!

It was a fun shoot and a chance for me to try a few new things shooting inside someone's home, as I most often shoot outside on location.  I look forward to seeing the photos in print on Stacy's family Christmas card!

Holiday Photo Cards 2012 featuring your existing portraits (or new ones!)

Now available for all past portrait clients of Jason Collin Photography is a very easy and convenient way to order professional quality Family Holiday Photo Cards using your already existing photo gallery!  Simply visit your secure portrait gallery (via Jason Collin Photography on SmugMug) and follow the steps detailed below to order either a traditional 5x7 folding holiday card or a stunning 4x8 flat holiday card.  If you cannot remember the link to your gallery, contact Jason for a reminder.


  • Click on the Buy button (it can be for any photo, all will show up in the card creator)
  • Click on "Create a Card" in the drop down menu (see screenshot above for reference)
  • You will be taken to the simple and fun card creator interface 




The custom card creator has a simple drag and drop template along with text boxes you can add your personalized titles and messages to.  There are dozens of card styles to choose from in 5x7 folding card form or 4x8 flat card style.  Once you create your card simply choose how many you want and the order is sent to a professional printing lab and then delivered right to your door for the most convenient holiday photo card ordering process possible. 

Holiday Photo Card Portraits with Caroline & Evan in St Petersburg

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th Strobist: SB-800 on light stand to frame left @ 1/2 powerWhen another professional photographer asks to hire you to take their portrait, it is flattering . . . and also makes you nervous as you know they know what exactly a good photograph is.  So when local St. Petersburg friend and colleague Caroline of CSE Photography asked me to photograph her, her husband and their dogs for their holiday photo cards, I was both excited and a bit worried about doing a job good another to satisfy another pro.

The dip! -- Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th Strobist: SB-800 to left SB-600 to rightActually I was not really worried because I have known Caroline (and Evan) for a little while now and they are both super friendly.  We have had meetings and shared photography business tips and ideas.  You might be surprised how freely professional photographers share information despite being competitors.  For me the reasons are because it is a great way to get real world tips, and there is no real concern about direct competition because no one, or dozen, photographers can possibly photograph every wedding in the city!

The shot above I was most excited to make as Caroline said she and Evan would properly demonstrate "the dip."  Everyone take note!

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1/160th Strobist: SB-800 on light stand to frame leftMy whistling ability came in handy once they brought their dogs to the park.  As often happens with photographing dogs, they were very much interested in everything except looking at the camera.  A sharp whistle got their attention as I had my Nikon ready, snap, everyone looking into the lens!  Really though they were good girls.  It would have been much harder to try and wrangle my own dog, Kiki, for a portrait like that!

Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/5 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 on light stand to frame leftThe above shot was a bit of pre-visualization.  I wanted to use the sun as a natural backlight for this portrait.  It took a bit of fiddling with the settings to get Caroline and Evan in an acceptable exposure while keeping the highlights of the sun in the background.  I needed to keep a 1/200th shutter speed to insure a sharp shot and did not want to use anything but the minimum ISO, so I only adjust the aperture on my D300 and the power coming out of the SB-800 speedlight.

Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/11 ISO 200 1/250th Strobist: SB-800 to left SB-600 to rightCaroline really liked Even in his black jacket.  I liked the idea of Evan leaning coolly against the palm tree.  Put those two things together, plus processing in Silver Efex Pro, and the results are a kind of (in my mind) throwback "fly boy" portrait.  In case you were wondering what were the settings to use when shooting in bright afternoon sunlight, I often use:  f/11 ISO 200 (D300's minimum) 1/250th (manual exposure mode) and set my speedlights to 1/2 power (manual mode).  

I had a lot of fun during this portrait session.  It is always nice to be able to photograph people you know.  It definitely adds something.  There is a certain comfort level and a different kind of creative feeling that must come only from having previously known someone.  Thanks again Caroline, Evan and the pups!