Take Family Photos You’ll Love, the Easy Way

It’s that time of year when everyone is scrambling to take family photos for holiday cards.  Lots of my friends are calling their photographers to schedule a “mini”.  All this is fine and good, and the following tips will work for these people too.  However you can still have amazing photos even if you only have 15 minutes and recruited a friend to take photos of your family with an iPhone!

Let’s get started …

Photograph Outside, An Hour and Half Before Sunset

Lighting is 80% of a good photo.

Natural light is best, so get outside.  Diffused natural light is where it really is at.  Diffused light is the kind you see on an overcast day.  It illuminates without creating harsh shadows.  You can take photos anytime on an overcast day.  Otherwise it is best to wait until about an hour and a half to an hour before sunset.  Not only is the light diffused at this point of the day, it also often takes on a golden hue which is very flattering.


Illuminate Your Faces

Even with diffused light, you should be able to see and feel the light illuminating your face.  If not, keep turning around until you can feel the light is in front of you, not behind you.  Did I mention lighting is 80% of a good photo?  This is especially true when using your phone camera.



A real smile.

Some people prefer having a posed photo smile they use.  If that’s you, skip this tip.

Most people, however, look best with a genuine smile.  The kind that accompanies happiness and laughter.  So for this 15 minute photo session, it is important everyone have a good time and laugh as much as possible.

Get rid of the pressure and stop shooting for perfection.  Those exact sentiments may be the very reason you don’t get photos you love.  Instead, take a sip of wine, put on some rockin’ music, and get ready to have fun!


Smile More

When I was fashion blogging, I was constantly photographing and then assessing the quality and usefulness of the images.  Time and time again, I would mutter to myself “I need to smile more!”  On the next go around, I’d smile my butt off and still I would look at the photos and conclude “I need to smile more!”  I don’t think it is possible to smile too much.  So smile, smile and smile some more.


Photograph The In-Between Moments

Instruct your recruited friend-photographer to keep photographing in between the posed shots.  Those moments are the most real and may end up being your favorites.  And, of course, make sure you smile through it all.


Mix It Up

Take photos in various spots (all of ours were taken on our property).  Take some standing, sitting, kneeling, and walking.  Even within one spot, make slight adjustments… kid on the shoulders, hands in your pockets, arms around each other, lean in, turn towards the center, bend your knee, straighten it again etc.  If you stick to one position and that position turns out not to be flattering, then you are stuck.  All the adjustments give you options.


Color Palette

In regards to what to wear, I prefer sticking to a color palette instead of matching each other.  If we were all to wear the same color shirts and the same color pants then it might be difficult to see where one person starts and the other ends.  While a color palette avoids this problem and still looks coordinated.

I like to be a bit selfish on this topic and pick out my most flattering outfit first.  Then see if that color palette will work for my boys.


Make Room for Text

If you are planning to make this photo into a holiday card, consider taking some photos off-center and perhaps with some sky or fields around.  The “white space” will give you room for the words of your message.


No Expensive Equipment Needed

If you have a fancy camera, by all means, use it.  I did.  However, I have taken just as crisp and clear photos with my iPhone.  As long as the lighting is right, your phone’s camera should do the trick.

All the photos shown in this post where taken by a friend with zero photography experience.  We photographed for 15-20 minutes during that golden hour before sunset.  It was so nice not to make a big ordeal out of it and not to spend any money.  I hope this helps you to have fun while getting photos you love too.

If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them!

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