Holiday pictures are often associated with stress, anxiety and big bucks, especially when you have a little one in tow. I vividly remember the reaction of my brothers and I each year when my mom would announce it was time to take our family picture. Let's just say it was far from excited.
With our first holiday season as a family of three, a group shot for our Christmas cards was a must. To ease the stress of photo taking, we decided to take the pictures on our own. Whether you're in a pinch for time or have a tight budget, pulling off a professional looking family photo without being a professional photographer is possible.
Here are some tips for great family photos this season:
Schedule Your Pictures Around The Golden Hour
The golden hour, also known as the magic hour, is best time of day for taking photos outdoors. Timing your photo to be taken during this period is the most important trick for professional looking photos on your own. Plan to start taking your photos at sunrise or 45 minutes before sunset. You can use this handy website to figure out what time that would be in your area.
Pick a pretty location
In real estate, the mantra "location, location, location" rings loud and clear. When it comes to your family photos, the same can be said. Scout out a spot beforehand. Consider a location that has a special meaning to your family or a location with an eye catching view. For our family, the little desert pull-off on the road to the mountains, if our go-to spot for pictures. From our dating days, to our pregnancy announcement, now to our first Christmas picture as a family of 3, we love this spot. Try a local park in your area, or an outdoor mall. Both tend to have lots of options for photo backgrounds.
Plan Outfits in Advance
Once you've decided on the perfect location, it's time to plan your outfits. Coordination is key. Avoid matchy-matchy, but try choosing a color scheme that will work well for the whole family. For the holidays, reds, whites, and blacks are classic combos. Try creating a flat lay inspiration board of the pieces you choose for your family.This will help you visualize the cohesion of the pieces. Consider ordering all of the pieces from the same store, as it might give you more options for cohesion. Be on the lookout for great clothing deals from stores like JcPenny and Macy's with the upcoming holiday season.
Find inspiration for poses
Head over to Pinterest and do a quick search for "family photos". Look for ideas on how to arrange your family. Pick multiple options, as you will realize that some set-ups are tough to pull off with your own family. Save the pictures on your phone and use them for reference while you take the pictures. Above is a picture I pinned for inspiration and our recreation of it.
Gather the right gear
The easiest set-up for your own photos is a tripod and a remote. Secure your camera to the tripod and take a few test shots before you arrange your family. Using a remote you can easily take family selfies from a distance. If you do not have a remote, check your camera settings for the self-timer.
Take as many shots as possible
When it comes to picture taking, particularly picture taking involving little ones, take as many shots as possible. The likelihood of a blurry face, closed eyes, or cranky baby is high. Once you have the family arranged in a pose continuously take pictures for 1-2 minutes to ensure you have plenty of selection for a winning photo. Repeat this with multiple poses. We took close to 100 pictures and ended up with around 3-4 with everyone looking.
Edit as needed
Crop, lighten, sharpen etc. My favorite tool to use is the free VSCO app. I usually email the photo to myself and import it into the app on my phone to edit. You can use pre-set filters or edit specific aspects. I typically play with the exposure and sharpening.
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