So, life got a bit crazy this season, and booking that holiday session for your family photos just didn’t make it onto the to-do list – no worries!! Here you are, knee-deep in the holiday hustle and bustle. Fear not, if you missed out on snapping pics with us this year, I’ve got some super sneaky tips for turning your iPhone into a photo magic! And guess what? I’ve got the inside scoop on how to get yourself in the frame too. Perfect for some quick turnaround photo fun so you can still spread holiday cheer with some awesome cards!
Find The Best Light
Lighting is the most important thing in any photo. The best kind of lighting is soft, natural, diffused light, such as window lighting. The same rules apply for outdoor photos … soft natural diffused light. The best time of day to shoot is what professional photographers call the golden hour. Either early morning just as the sun is coming out or just before sunset. In my line of work with weddings, we understand these situations aren’t always achievable on the go. So, look for soft evenly shaded areas.
Since you might be taking group photos and rounding up the troops, it might even be a good idea to scope it out ahead of time! Again, be aware of your background. If it’s too light or too dark, your subject will get lost. Avoid harsh shadows and shooting the subject facing the sun. This will produce squinting eyes and unwanted shadows. Also beware of too dark of areas. All too often we see subjects being photographed in dark dingy corners where they tend to get lost.
Our eyes can determine both dark and light exposures at the same time, but the camera cannot. Ever have a subject with the beach as the background and either the beach is properly exposed but your subject is too dark or the subject is correct and the beach is blown out? This is because the camera can’t capture what we see with the naked eye. Most mobile phone cameras will capture everything overall and guess at what the best mix will be. This means if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll won’t get the photo you’re aiming for. Try tapping on the main subject to achieve the best exposure. Sometimes, though, even that won’t work. In that case, you’ll need to rethink your background and lighting situation. Look for that open soft shade or window lighting.
Experiment with different perspectives and cropping. A common mistake is always putting the subject directly in the center of the frame.
You don’t have to always center your subject. Learn the rule of thirds. Try an angle from above or below. Set your subject off centered.
Pose people either sitting or standing or a combination of both sitting and standing. Make sure people’s faces aren’t covered.
Line Up – This can be done with any number of people and creates a photo that will make certain that no one is hidden behind someone else.
Rows – Create several rows for larger groups. For example, back row stands, middle row sits on chair/kneels, and front row sits on floor. Just be sure to watch placement of legs and hands.
Staggered – Position people in a staggered formation. Instead of posing the group in line-up or row, arrange them in a more triangular pattern. Try to separate people of equal height from standing together to make a more triangle dynamic posing.
Strike a Pose – Make sure to not all be standing straight and tall with hands to side or in front of their body. Bend a knee or elbow, cross your arms, legs, ankles. Even a hand in the pocket!
Photographing children is always a challenge, sometimes even more so when mom and dad are doing it. We recommend getting down on their level. Get low, talk to them, engage with them. Make them laugh and wait for that perfect expression that best expresses their personalities. This is where you have an advantage, because you know them best. You know that expression right before it happens, so be ready to click. If you try to force smiles or make them stand stiff and still that’s the look you’ll get. Put them in the right lighting with the right background and let them be them. You’ll know when to capture that perfect moment for your group photos.
Include Everyone in the Photos, Even Yourself
Let’s dive into some DIY magic for getting everyone into those precious family photos! First up, grab a trusty tripod or find a stable surface to perch your camera or phone. This ensures a steady shot that captures the moment just right. Next, utilize your timer function on your phone or snag a handy remote shutter. Set it up, give it a tap, and find your perfect spot in the frame. Don’t forget to frame up the shot with your loved ones before hitting that timer. Use an object or a stand-in to nail down the composition. And of course, a little practice makes perfect! Take a few or a lot of shots to make sure everyone feels comfortable and in their element. This little step helps avoid any last-minute adjustments. You’ve got this! Here is my secret tripod weapon from Amazon.
The #1 rule when photographing anyone is to stay positive and give lots of affirmation that the subject looks amazing. If your kids are making funny faces, make them back. I promise it will make them laugh and if you’re ready, you’ll capture the perfect smile. With couples, the same thing applies – OK, maybe not the funny faces, but you never know … that might work, lol. Just keep it upbeat and positive and you’ll get that emotion you desire. I have to make Aldo sincerely laugh anytime we take a photo, otherwise he looks like a grumpy old man! I do this by any means necessary – being a goofball, tickles, stupid jokes, whatever – but it works, we manage to get some awesome smiles out of him. Also, remember you don’t always have to smile for portraits!
When you have fun, like chatting, laughing, behind the scenes, you get the best photos! These make for great memories and capture the true essence of the group. Once everyone is in position get your group to laugh or interact for a fun portrait.
Free Guide – 9 Ways to Look Beautiful and Confident for Your Photos
Did you know that I offer a free guide with my top tips on how to look beautiful and confident in your photos? This guide is also a perfect resource for when you are planning group photos, with many tricks to helping you nail the perfect images! Click below to get the guide delivered to you instantly via email!