The 2009 Christmas Card

Lisa and I like to go all-out on our Christmas cards. We're talking full-on, crazy productions. Last year all of us were playing Guitar Hero inside a Christmas tree. This year, we decided on a 50's-themed card. We actually started talking about this idea last Christmas, and we love it.

Click the image to view a super-large version, and see if you can find anything hidden! When you are done, check out the making-of video at the bottom plus the details to to learn a little bit about how I shot this, and what I hid where.


Creating the Card The first challenge was the location. I looked into renting some 50's-looking appliances, but in the end I was able to shoot at the Austin Diner. It has a great retro vibe. Here's a shot of the diner. Notice the details that wouldn't have existed in the 50's, like the beer signs and the digital clock:


Everybody was photographed separately, and then composited in. Thankfully, the boys were cooperative this year. We used a 5 light setup for each person, shooting against grey seamless. To make this shoot a little easier, I used a 50mm lens for everything. I also made sure to keep the tripod height and angle as close as possible for all the components.

Here are two of the unused images. Note the seamless-covered table. This was to simulate the diner bar, so that when I placed my hand on it, it matched up close to the original.


Here's the final masked shot of Lisa, put against a black background. A few things to notice here.

  • The black masking around her elbow is where the flower vase will partially show through.
  • There's a reflection of her on the table, which is made by copying the image, flipping it vertically, squishing it, and lowering the opacity.
  • A $2 pie from the grocery store photographs better than it tastes.


That's pretty much it! Be sure to watch the video above to find the hidden items in the card.

What do you think? Are you doing anything creative for your cards? If so, please share!