"Get dressed! Stand straight! Hold still! Smile! Stop fighting!!!"
Does that sound like a verbal snapshot of what happened the last time you tried to get a family photo
? Do you have a rebellion on your hands every time you drag a camera
out? If so, maybe it's time to try some proven strategies for getting that perfect family photo that everyone dreams of!Make a Plan
The key to making this a fun, stress-free experience is to keep it short, and you do that by following a plan of action. Dream photos don't just happen; so get started by thumbing through magazines
and books that have family photos in them. Find the one photo that has the look that you believe is perfect for your particular family. Then use that photo as your guide for other decisions and to communicate what you want to the person who will be taking the photo.
Of course, it's unlikely that you'll match that photo exactly, but if you don't have some sort of sample to use as a guide, you may end up with a photo that's nothing like what you really have in mind. Like they say, if you don't know where you're going, you might end up somewhere else!Dress for Success
Choose compatible colors and stay away from busy patterns. It's not a bad idea to create a checklist and make certain you can put your hands on every item on your list. The last thing you need is to be searching, while everyone is standing around waiting, for the shoe that little Johnny tossed under the bed or that pink ribbon for Sally's hair that somehow ended up as the tail on Johnny's kite.
Here's a hot tip. Kids can sometimes have strong feelings about what they want to wear in a picture, so try giving them a little say by letting them choose between two outfits
. Even better, if they're old enough, you might want to get their input on the whole plan. The more involved they are in the planning, the more invested they'll be in a positive outcome! Location, Location, Location
Using your sample photo as a guide, consider all of the possible locations available to you. Pick the one that will have the fewest distractions, a nice background, plenty of posing options-places to sit or stand-and so on.
When choosing that location, keep in mind the ages of your group. Taking pictures on the beach might be great when kids are a little older, but chasing after a seagull is going to be awfully tempting for little kids and the family dog.
Speaking of pets, it's always more fun for kids to have their best buddy in the picture, so you might want to use that "option" as a little bribe to get the cooperation you want. Time of Day
If you want the photo taken inside, then usually just about any time of day can work. That means you can choose the time when everyone in the family is likely to be at his or her very best. On the other hand, if you plan to go outdoors because you want to take advantage of natural light and the environment, lighting conditions will dictate what time of day is best. That beach photo should be taken very early in the morning or a late afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon. If you're photographing in a park, you'll most likely want an area where both your family and the background will be in open shade-an area where the sky is reflecting light into a shaded area, unobstructed by trees or buildings. The softer light of open shade is the key to getting flattering photos outdoors. You don't want everyone standing in the sun squinting
at the camera.
Here's another hot tip. If you don't want everyone looking grumpy, don't let the photo session delay a meal! If that's unavoidable, then by all means plan to have everyone enjoy a protein snack just before the photo session begins. It's better to risk ruining dinner than ruining a picture you'll treasure for a lifetime!If All Else Fails...
Hire a pro! Yes, uncle Joe might have the latest and greatest camera and be a whiz in his digital darkroom, but he may not be the best person to work with your kids. Often a seasoned pro
will have an edge because kids will behave a little differently-usually better-when they're around strangers. If you do decide to work with a pro, use the above suggestions to help communicate your expectations. The pros we've talked to agree that creating a plan of action is the key to making family photos fun!
Do you still have questions? For more help on this subject, visit our Photography Forum
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