Bryan here, photographer at Bryan Babich Photography and Wilderness Hub. I have been looking forward to this Wilderness Hub’s takeover of the blog for a while.
If your family is anything like ours, you seize the opportunity of having everyone together on Thanksgiving to capture the classic annual holiday photo. Before you pick up that camera, Polaroid Instamatic or iPhone, here are a few quick tips that will get your shot to look a little closer to a modern Norman Rockwell painting than something from the awkward family photos website.
Wear solid colors.
Ditch those crazy patterns that bring a bit of fun and flare to everyday life, and opt for solid colors, as patterns can be distracting. That being said, you don’t have to go to extremes to ensure that everyone is in white shirts and blue jeans. Choose solid pieces, in colors that are not overwhelming, to bring a little more harmony to the photo.
Pick your spot.
I know a few people who have already put up their Christmas décor. If this includes you, now is the perfect time to capitalize on that. If not, no problem. Find a roomy area of your home or outside to be the backdrop of your photo.
Do not shoot into the light.
Avoid taking pictures where the subjects are backlit (meaning the light is coming from behind the subject). You want to make sure that the subject is facing the light so that their face is not in shadow. This tip really is an oldie but a goodie, but because people can get lost in the moment, it is worth mentioning.
Don’t shoot your subjects in direct sunlight, or with the sunlight behind them. (Jenny is providing a prime example of the face you will get if you do so.)
Do try to get everyone out of direct sunlight, to lessen the squint effect, if shooting in the morning.
Avoid the firing line.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many family photos I have seen (or family photos I have been in) where people are arranged in a straight line on a flat plain. The idea is that you are taking a family photo, not lining up the “usual suspects,” so mix things up. The tallest people should be in the back and towards the center, shorter people and little ones in the front. Arrange members of the family to show how they are connected to one another.
Don’t mix loud prints or line up your family as if you are trying to recreate the poster for “The Usual Suspects.”
Do go for solid colors, group family members by height and connection and flash a big smile.
Why so serious?
The stoic serious look is out; smiles and connectivity are in. Give that camera a smile. Ask everyone in the photo to think about his or her favorite Christmas moment while looking at the camera, or a favorite family moment. You would be surprised how thinking about those moments actually translate to the final image.
Grab a bright red fedora, some reindeer antlers or a Santa hat and enjoy the moment. Fun spots of color and shapes can make the image memorable and fun to look at.
Now that you have the secrets to a great shoot, grab your camera, and your loved ones, and snap that perfect family photo!