At Primary, there's a consensus among our team that taking family photos for holiday cards is always something that seems fun, but turns out to be...well, less so, when the time actually comes to snap that print-worthy pic. (One can never predict every family member's mood!). If you've ever felt similarly, our Photo Director Louisa is here to help ease your picture-taking woes, so you can have more fun, and make forced, stiff portraits a thing of the past. Here, she shares 15 tips for snapping imperfectly perfect family photos at home.
1. Make a fun day of it. Set a time on the calendar and pretend it's your family's very own "editorial shoot." To make it feel even more special and exciting, include a "call time" for everyone to be "on set." You could also have something planned for afterwards that everyone can look forward to, like decorating cookies or watching a movie.
2. Get in the spirit. Put on a dancing playlist, set up the self-timer, and see what happens when the shutter clicks! Crack a dad joke or two to calm camera-shy nerves.
3. Mix-and-match your outfits. Go all-out in matching PJs, or choose a tonal color family, like blues, greens, or reds, to give everyone the choice to wear what makes them feel their best.
4. Stash some snacks. Have dry snacks on hand to keep everyone's energy up! Goldfish has always been a lifesaver at Primary's photoshoots.
5. Include the pets. Got a lizard? Hold them up! Have a dog? Place something they like behind the camera so they'll look in that direction. Keep treats nearby, too.
6. Know your tools. You don't need big, fancy equipment to take a great picture. Any tool, no matter how scrappy, will work! Some of our favorites are tripods, selfie sticks, disposable cameras, and even just a cell phone propped up against a stack of books. If you use a cell phone or tablet, make sure to take your photo with the back camera (instead of the front-facing camera) for higher quality.
7. Embrace action and movement. If you're not one for stiff, seated portraits, welcome to the club! Don’t worry if not everyone is sitting still or looking at the camera. Try looking at each other, jumping up and down, or getting a mid-dance shot. Sometimes, the best photos are the ones that happen unexpectedly.
8. Play with different poses. Let the love you have for each other shine through the interactions you have on camera. Take a few photos sitting, then try standing. Hug, giggle, sit in each other's laps — the more variation, the merrier.
9. Consider your location. Opt for a simple background to keep the focus on everyone's faces. Gather around your favorite place, whether that's on a bench at the park or in the kitchen at home.
10. Find your light. If you’re outside, face the sun to avoid backlight and shadows. Weather not great? An overcast day works just as well. If you’re inside, find a spot with ample natural light and face a window or other bright light source so that the spotlight is on your family’s faces. Flash can be used as an additional light, but natural light will always result in a softer-feeling photo.
11. Remember to focus. Your phone, that is! Most smartphones usually have an autofocus feature, but you can tap one of your family member’s faces before setting the timer to make sure it's on.
12. Try a video. If you have trouble with your self-timer, start a video and keep the camera rolling. After you're done, you can go back and take a screenshot from the video that will still be high-quality enough to print. Plus, how fun is it to have a video to look back on, too?
13. Use an editing app. Our go-to is Snapseed — it's easy to use and will do the job of brightening up your photos without applying unnecessary filters. If you want a more hands-on approach, we recommend Adobe’s Lightroom app. If you aren’t sure where to start, no worries! Focus on brightness, temperature, and vibrance. Most apps, including your phone camera, have these three settings, and adjusting them will do the trick for a brighter, clearer photo.
14. Go for the spontaneous selfie. Already have something planned for the holiday season? Make your photo opp part of that! Bring along a selfie stick or tripod and when you have a moment, snap a quick pic that not only documents a special family moment, but captures a holiday card-worthy photo as well.
15. Most importantly...remember that there's something special about everyone's family. Let go of the idea that this photo needs to be perfect, and let your personalities shine through! Keeping this in mind throughout the process guarantees not only wonderful, authentic photos, but great memories of taking them, too.
Feeling inspired? Share your holiday card photos with us on social! Tag @primarydotcom with #yesprimary, and shop our entire assortment of holiday family PJs here.