It’s that time of year again, the frantic scramble to get a decent photo of all of the family members to put on your holiday card. Or maybe that’s just me… If you’re like me, getting everyone in one spot, smiling and all wearing pants is almost impossible, then scheduling and actually making it to a photo session with a photographer? Not going to happen.
Since we live on the opposite side of the continent from most of our friends and family I make sure that we have a family card to send to everyone during the holidays. I’ve been taking our family photo myself since my son was born, and it’s a bit of point of pride for me. So here are my tips for taking your own family portraits.
Always Be Prepared… like a boy scout, but cooler obviously
I’ve found that the way to limit the craziness is to plan my shoot. I make sure to pick out everyones outfits or the color scheme that I want to work with. Posing is harder then it looks so take a couple of minutes to search Pinterest for ideas about what style photos you want, and types of poses. Do you want props? Keep in mind that the extras will add extra time and stress to your shoot.
Location, Location, Location… and dont forget about your light!
Choose your location in advance, the more time you spend looking for an ideal spot the less time little kids will play nice for the camera, trust me I make this mistake every year. It’s best to choose a place where you will have some privacy, while you run back and forth from the camera looking like a maniac. If you’re planning an outdoor shoot, which is the easiest way to get good light, remember that you need to shoot early in the morning before 10am or after 3pm or else you will get harsh light that will not be flattering. Don't worry if the day is overcast, this is actually the most flattering and easiest light for taking portraits. If you’re shooting inside, make sure you're in a location with a lot of natural light or else your shutter speed may end up being too slow especially if you have small children who refuse to sit still.
Set It And Forget It… but not really
I would recommend using a DSLR with a tripod and a timer or a shutter release. If you don't happen to have a fancy camera, no worries, an iPhone will do. Especially if you happen to have an Apple watch. You can use your watch as a remote shutter release for your phone. Use an iPhone tripod or McGuiver that shit and prop it up on some thing. Which ever kind of camera, use all of your auto settings, especially if you dealing with kids. Set your camera for multiple exposures so you only have to press the shutter every ten photos or so, and to help capture whatever crazy thing your toddler is doing.
Last word of advice, relax and have fun. They aren't going to be perfect so don't stress, you might be surprised by how much you love how not perfect they are.
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