As the holidays approach, many families are planning annual portraits for personalized cards and gifts to loved ones. But this can be a complex planning ordeal for even the most organized person. In addition to coordinating schedules and what everyone should wear, it’s just as important to focus on the best photography tips, tools and techniques to make the most of your family portrait.
“Everyone who has ever taken or posed for a family photo knows it’s a rewarding yet challenging endeavor,” says Tim Meyer, owner of Meyer Photography and program chair of the portrait division of photography at Brooks Institute, a leading provider of higher education for film, visual journalism, graphic design and photography. “The good news is that with proper planning and digital photography advances families can get higher-quality photos than ever before, whether you’re hiring a professional photographer or doing it yourself.”
While it can still be difficult to capture the entire family with smiles on their faces, Meyer offers six tips for taking the perfect family portrait this holiday:
1. Invest in quality camera equipment. Digital photography has brought the world of photography to the masses, and high-quality digital cameras can be purchased new or used at reasonable prices. For family portraits, make sure the camera has a timer so you can be a part of the picture. You should also consider buying a tripod to steady your camera and make your photo shoot easier.
2. Scope out the best locations and background for the shoot. Think outside the family fireplace to create interesting indoor backdrops for family photos – but avoid mirrors and windows that can create issues by reflecting light. If choosing an outdoor location, make sure it is free from distraction. Like indoor shots, intricate patterns or background commotion can distract from the subject of the photo – in this case, your family.
3. Consider the best time for taking photos with your family. Natural lighting is great for family photos, particularly the golden hour – the first and last hour of sunlight during each day. If this isn’t convenient for your family, choose a time when any children involved in the picture are well rested and more apt to patiently pose for photos. If you’re shooting indoors, ensure there’s adequate lighting, whether natural or from other sources.
4. Take lots of shots, but remember that the best expressions with children are often the first ones. Group photos are challenging, considering the number of people who must smile and look their best at the same time. Chances are you’ll have several photos with eye-blinking subjects and wiggly children. To increase your odds of getting the best family portrait, take as many photos as possible and vary the composition to get different angles and arrangements.
5. Plan ahead if including a furry friend in your family portraits. Many people view their pets as members of the family, so it’s only fitting that you might want to include your beloved pet in a family portrait. If so, choose a time when the pet is naturally calmer, perhaps after a walk or at nap time. Also, bring treats to hold the pet’s attention and reward the pet for a job well done.
6. Leave it to the professionals. If the challenge of taking your own family photographs becomes overwhelming, connect with a professional photographer who can provide additional tips or work within your budget to help you get professional family photos in time for the holidays. Today’s professionals offer a greater variety of styles and ways of sharing your images than ever before.