Taking family photos at home is a common Christmas pastime for that unique, yearly greetings card or family newsletter.  Of course, you want to share your family with everyone.  Sadly, sometimes the pictures leave a bit to be desired.

Let’s try to help you get the right shot at the right time that you are really proud to show off:

Lighting Matters

If you’ve ever watched America’s Next Top Model or X Factor, you know how important finding the light is.  Help your subjects understand where the light is and that they need some of the light in their eyes, so they have that glint in the photo.

Use a Tripod

This is especially important if you’re going to be in the photo too.  You can pre-focus the picture on the other subjects, set the timer, and then slide into the shot without worrying about it moving.

Try Manual Focus

While autofocus works great, when it comes to home portraits you may want to try manually focusing on the subjects.  If you don’t, once you get into the shot, the camera might get confused and focus on the wrong spot. Refocus when poses change.

Have Fun

While you do want some serious family photos, let the kids have fun and act silly for some of the shots.  It will make the experience a lot more pleasurable.

Help Everyone Pose

There is a saying in modelling, “if it bends, bend it”.  Do the same to make the photo more interesting.  Standing there like a statue will not look good.  Figure out and practice poses that make each person look their best.

Choose a Style of Clothing

You don’t want everyone to be rigidly colour-coordinated but you do want the colours to go together.  It works best if you pay attention to who is going to stand near who and make sure the colours don’t clash or blend in together too much.

Hair and Makeup

As well as clothing, you want a bit of coordination on hair and makeup too.  People like to look their best in photos.  Talk through what you’re looking for in advance and allow them plenty of time to get ready.

Stagger the Heads

The best family photos offer a variety of things to look at, which is why most professional photographers stagger their heads.  It makes the photo more interesting and naturally takes advantage of the subject matter.

Get an Assistant

Someone who is not going to be in the shot is always a help, especially if you have small babies.  You really want the children to look right at the camera, so their eyes are the main focus in the shot.  The assistant can stay with the camera, grab the attention of the kids and give the family something to look at.

Taking family pictures should be a relaxed and fun activity, that everyone in the family enjoys.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not.  If your family is normally dressed down, stay dressed down.  If your family is formal, then be formal.  There is no right or wrong way, it’s just about setting the right environment to obtain the best results.  Photos offer a unique way of celebrating family occasions whether just sitting relaxed on a sofa or bigger life events.