The ones we’re NOT using in the Christmas card


Photo day for Hank & Willie, and a friend. Weather was below freezing and children were miserable. Note chocolate-bar-as-bribe in my hand, bottom left. Note also that it is not having desired effect.

So folks, it’s December. I have no idea how that happened, but here’s another bulletin—Christmas is THREE WEEKS from tomorrow. Never mind the shopping, have you done your holiday cards yet?


That’s a superhero face, in case you aren’t fluent in the expressions of four-year-old boys.

For us moms who love pictures, this is our SuperBowl. I’m still figuring out which image to use for ours—and believe me, these boys didn’t give us many choices—and what it’s going to look like—make my own? Use one of the designs at the excellent design and printing companies out there, like Posh Peacock, Tiny Prints, Moo? Try the new and improved offerings at the photo-sharing sites like Smug Mug, Shutterfly and Snapfish?

Looking for ideas on making your card uniquely yours?  Try these nine fantastic tips for making your own creative photo cards at Martha Stewart, or head to ShutterSisters and read their great series, Great Greetings!, on taking better photos and sharing great ideas about holiday cards. And for further inspiration, check out their Flickr pool for finished holiday cards and photos.

And if you’ve got your photo, but it needs a little something before you create your final card? As my gift to you, I would be happy to try a little Photoshop magic on your photo this year.  So far this year for friends’ photos I have:

A) Swapped heads on a lovely family for optimum smileage

B) Removed a silver picture frame embedded in the head of a handsome preschooler

C) Done basic contrast/curves boost and color boost (Falls under the category of “make it better and brighter!”

D) Done black and white conversions

E) Done vintage and faded conversions

If you think you need help with one of those areas and if you think I might be able to make your photo look better than it already is, send me your original, unedited high-resolution file.

But remember, pictures that tell the story of your family don’t have to be perfect to be great!


The fine print

Send me your photo at and make sure you put Hank & Willie Photo Help in the subject line. And, if you send me a photo, it is fair game to post the before and after on H&W, but I won’t use names if you don’t want them published.

I don’t think I am going to get tons of photos, because many H & W readers are far better at photo editing than I am. However, if I get too many (like more than five) I will pick a few randomly to work on. Because remember, it’s just three weeks from Christmas!

Anna Sawin

Anna Sawin is a Connecticut-based portrait, wedding, and editorial photographer. She lives in the shoreline town of Stonington with her family and has discovered the perfect cupcake. Just ask, she is willing to share her secret.


  1. Lisa on December 3, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    This post just made me realize that I am now officially too broke to buy holiday cards. Heh. I’d love to order some Moo cards if I manage to scrounge something up but their shipping is a complete disaster. I wonder if they’ll get here before Christmas rolls in.

  2. Holiday Photo Cards on December 3, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    We LOVE Scrapless Press holiday photo cards. Take a look, they’re amazing and the compliments just keep coming!

  3. Christina on December 3, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Oh hush up, won’t you? NO I have not done my Christmas cards yet! NO I do not know what I’m doing! Ack!
    But you rock for putting the spirit in Christmas with this offer!

  4. JenBun on December 3, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    What monster embedded a picture frame in a preschooler’s head?!?

    I think that kid needs a doctor more than Photoshop.


  5. applecyder on December 3, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I wish I already had a photo to send you to doctor up. I think I will send one soon!! Thanks Anna.

  6. Christine Koh on December 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    That first photo + title made me laugh out loud! And thanks so much for the kind shout out for Posh Peacock!

    The last few years we have taken to sending New Year’s cards because we can’t get our act together for December… although this year I’m all about less is more and am planning on keeping shopping really minimal so maybe there’s hope…!

  7. Jess K. on December 3, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Christmas cards? Are you insane? Oh, right, I guess this is the last year I can get away with this shitty attitude. By next year I will need you to photoshop elbows, knees, fists out of something, surely. Love the sweaters!

  8. Michelle on December 3, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I love the christmas card ‘outtakes.’ I’ve been tempted to actually use one of those pictures for our cards, just to see what people would say!

  9. Will on December 4, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Try – they do christmas cards like moo… but they send them off for you so the process is completely automated.

  10. Sarah on December 4, 2008 at 9:44 am

    last year, we had outtakes on the back of our card and it was a HAYUGE hit.

  11. thelandofka on December 4, 2008 at 10:09 am

    LOVE the superhero face! I opted to take my shot inside in the dark of night, so the flash was a must. The kids had fun, though, so I didn’t have to bribe them at all! This time at least. 😉 I just got them in the mail from Mpix yesterday so now the addressing and stuffing begins!

  12. katherine on December 4, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    WE DID use the outtakes as our card last year… the front. And like Sarah’s, a huge hit. What can I say, we had a newborn, an 18-month old and after 3 sittings, we still didn’t have anything!

    wish us luck – we are shooting with the same pro who did the portraits on Saturday. 🙂

  13. Barbie on December 4, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    The first picture of this entry is precious. Looks like the holidays to me. Absolutely too cute!

  14. Chelle on December 4, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    I’m actually quite partial to the super hero expression. I mean, does it get any better than that?

    If you’d like to do another photo session, I’ll practice my best whacky fun faces… Hey wouldn’t that be cool? Get a group of friends together and take a series of whacky fun faces for each…

  15. Erinne on December 5, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Love them all. So cute.

  16. Maya on December 6, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Thank you for reminding me…holiday cards are NOT done or even thought of! That first photo just makes me laugh!!!

  17. Momma, The Casual Perfectionist on December 7, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I LOVE the outtakes!! 🙂 The one with the super-hero face made me laugh out loud.

  18. […] last year’s call for photos.  And the […]

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Anna Sawin is a Connecticut-based portrait, wedding, and editorial photographer. She lives in the shoreline town of Stonington with her family and has discovered the perfect cupcake. Just ask, she is willing to share her secret.