Pearl | Bishop’s Garden

Pearl is one of my favorite subjects and I photographed her for the 6th time recently! We took the pictures at the Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral, and it was a perfect spot for this beautiful girl and her beautiful mama.


Amel | Rockville Baby Photographer

Meet Amel! She is the cutest thing ever! I photographed her and her parents earlier this month when the fall leaves were at their peak color.


Quinn | Sterling Portrait Photography

Here are some of my favorite images of  four-year-old Quinn and his parents, taken at Algonkian Regional Park last month!


Tips for printing holiday cards

I posted this in a photography forum last year and many people said they found it useful,

so I thought I’d publish it here with some additional info and examples.


‘Tis the season for holiday cards! I know a lot of photographers are printing cards for clients, as well as for themselves, so I thought I’d offer up a few helpful tips and things to be aware when ordering press printed products. This is pretty basic information, but hopefully it will help you make more informed choices.



Don’t beat yourself up when your cards are delivered and they don’t look exactly like they do on your computer screen. They never will, and there are multiple reasons for this. First of all, your screen is backlit, so nothing will match it exactly. Second, all press printed materials are printed in CMYK. That means that your printer will be converting your RGB files to CMYK. Even if your monitor is calibrated, every computer is different, and the conversion to CMYK sometimes causes color shifts.



Your images will print about 10-15% darker than the file you see on screen. This is known as print gain, or dot gain. This happens because the paper soaks up and spreads the ink on the paper. Keep this in mind when you ready your files. I lighten mine a bit before I send them to print.


The image below shows my family’s holiday card from 2011. Notice the difference in the backlit image versus the printed image.  You can also see the print gain on the uncoated paper stock.


There are lots of choices when it comes to paper stocks, but all paper comes in two basic categories: coated and uncoated. Coated paper tends to have less print gain than uncoated paper. It has a coating that lies on top of it, therefore the paper does not soak up as much ink as uncoated paper. Coated papers are stocks that have a gloss, semi-gloss, or matte finish. (WHCC calls theirs “standard” and “premium” papers, while Miller’s Lab refers to theirs as “smooth cover”.) Generally, coated papers have 30% or less of recycled material in them. They are more of a blue-white and print truer to the color in your file. They also usually have smooth finishes with little texture to them. (FYI – Don’t confuse coated paper with UV coating. UV coating is an additional protective coating added after printing.)


Examples of uncoated paper are linen, watercolor, bamboo and recycled stocks. Tiny Prints’ matte paper is also uncoated. These stocks tend to contain more recycled content. Paper that is 100% recycled is duller and less white/more yellow, so they don’t print as true to color as coated papers. But uncoated stock also can have beautiful textures and a great feel to them.


Cover weight determines the thickness of the paper. The higher the number, the thicker the paper. A typical postcard or flyer you might receive in the mail is usually 80# or 100# cover. 150# cover is quite thick.


These links from WHCC and Miller’s are very helpful in describing the weight and content of their paper stocks:



CMYK printing is also called 4 color printing. Cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks are used to create all the colors in your photos and designs. Anything white is not printed in ink. It is a knock-out, meaning a place where there will be no ink on the paper. Keep this in mind, in case you have text or a logo that has white in it. If you use an uncoated recycled paper, it will not be a pure white. If you are using a colored paper, the knocked out areas will be the color of the paper.


FYI – You can print white ink on cards, but it is a fifth color and therefore an additional charge. I don’t think most photo labs offer this option.


Make sure you set your files up correctly!! The trim size is the size the final printed piece will be after it is printed and trimmed. Bleed is the added area around the trim size. If you want your photos to print to the edges, you need the bleed. The bleed allows extra image on all sides for the trimming process. The cards are trimmed in big stacks in a machine. Because the cards can shift a bit back and forth in the machine, you need to have the extra artwork on all sides, ensuring that the image will not cut be off. The live area, also known as safety, is the area in which you want to keep all your important info. All text should be kept within the live area to ensure it doesn’t get trimmed off.


Most photo printers have templates, with bleed and trim included, and it’s important to use them. But if you don’t have a template, you can use this basic formula to set up your files.  Bleed needs to be 1/8″ bigger than the trim size on all sides. So if your trim size is a 5″ x 7″, the bleed size should be 5-1/4″ x 7-1/4″. In other words, you are adding 1/8″ to the top, the right side, the bottom, and the left side. Live area should be 1/8” smaller than the trim on all sides.


So these are the final sizes in our example:

Bleed: 5-1/4” x 7-1/4”

Trim: 5” x 7”

Live 4-3/4” x 6-3/4”



Die cutting is used for both rounded corners as well as ornament shapes (sometime called “boutique cards”) that have been popular the past couple years. Most die cutting at photo labs use an existing die/shape, so the added cost is not outrageous. But if you want a custom shape, a die will need to be created, which can be pricey and take more time.




Make sure your text is readable. Sometimes, this means you may need to slightly darken or lighten an area of your image that goes underneath the text.


Below is my Christmas card I sent out last year. I had it printed at Tiny Prints, so I didn’t have to worry about templates/sizing, I just had to upload an image to their web site. But I did pay attention to the areas of my image underneath the text. All the text is white (knocked-out) so I made sure the image was not too light under the text, and I also removed a few distracting shells from underneath.


I hope this information has been helpful. Happy printing!



Baby Keet | Fairfax Newborn Photography

I love this family so much! I took photos of baby Keet and big brother Trip last month at their home.