While last year’s holiday card was
nearly impossible to top, in keeping with tradition, we managed to pull together another funny and unique Christmas card this year. Since we bought a house this summer, we decided to conserve time and resources and do a single, early mailing, announcing our new address for the holidays before everyone else mailed their own cards. Our designer this year is the amazing Kendra Bull. Kendra is not only a good friend and recent portrait client, but also the owner of Pretty Little Notes (custom personal invitations) and a commercial graphic design studio.
My inspiration for this card struck randomly, like usual – that’s how my brain works. To explain, let me back up a bit. You might remember that we commissioned my brother-in-law, Ross, to build an Arts and Crafts style dining room table when we lived in Cheyenne. We asked him to make the table large enough to accommodate big groups (at least 10-12), and he made it happen!
When we were house hunting this summer, we focused on finding a home in which our table would not only physically fit, but also, be showcased appropriately. Fortunately, this community has many Arts and Crafts era homes, including bungalows and four squares. When we saw our house, a 1917 four square, for the first time, we knew it was the one, with all hardwood floors, intact original mill work throughout the ground floor, and best of all, a huge dining room with vaulted ceilings and a window seat. (Indeed, this new home of ours is the first one in which we we’ve lived that comfortably fits the table with both leaves in.)
As we settled in, we laughed often about how comically large the table is when just the three of us eat there. One day, I remembered the funny dinner scene (starts at 0:44) from Batman (1989), in which the socially awkward Bruce Wayne sits at the opposite end of the enormous table from his date. Instantly, I knew this would be the perfect pun for our card.
Here are some screen shots I used to help me style our set:
When styling our wardrobe, I was going for psuedo-serious hipster pretentiousness. I wanted us to look uptight but slightly disheveled; like we were trying really hard to have the perfect family Christmas photo, and failing. I found a matching dad-shirt and boy bow-tie on Gymboree for Nathan and Rawley, and wore one of my own old black cocktail dresses with faux flapper pearls I found on Amazon. The finishing touch was the ridiculous pipe that we borrowed from our friend Adam (who smokes it seriously). The pipe was the key to the whole thing, kind of like Nathan’s mustache last year.
The shoot proved quite challenging. In addition to running around fiddling with camera gear with heels on, I realized how dark the dining room really is. There is only one overhead pendant light with one bulb, and all the dark wood trim, flooring, and furniture soaks up what little light it puts out. Further, we did the shoot in the evening to avoid harsh window hotspots, so there wasn’t much ambient light.
My biggest lighting challenge was caused by the table itself. It is so long and wide that the top casts some seriously dark shadows underneath, hiding the beautiful base. I tried setting up one light with soft box, but it just wasn’t enough to balance the scene properly. I had hot spots, dark corners, too many shadows, unevenness, etc. So, I ditched the light and cranked the ISO and decided that grainy black and whites wouldn’t be a problem with the vintage, “we’re fancy” theme, anyway, so I just ran with it.
I sent the processed files and text to Kendra, and suggested a script font (fancy!) with metallic gold (pretentious!) / black and white (vintage!) design to mirror the theme.
Kendra did a great job! We loved the results, and hope it makes you smile. (Note: on the one we actually mailed to contacts, we included our new address on the front of the card. We’ve removed that here for privacy reasons.)
How did your card turn out? Would love to see your fun ideas!
Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday season!