*Updated after several years of family photos*
My new goal in life (along with plethora of others…the list is long) is to have several family photos.
I think my parents got a professional picture about once every ten years. Seriously, my grandmother had a family picture before I was born of mother, father, and older sister with my baby picture TAPED to it. For about 15 years. Sorry, Mom, I have loftly goals so you never have our family picture hanging up in your house that looks like that!
Here’s a few things to think about when taking a family picture:
Step 1: Learn to use your camera’s timer or buy a remote. The remote for my Nikon was about $18. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a nice cheap one for my Nikon D300S
Step 2: Buy a tripod for your camera…or just use a ladder like I did here. Tripods are much easier to adjust though, take it from me.
Step 3: Get everyone dressed nice. This means dressing in non-clashing colors, no logo shirts, and for goodness sakes don’t do white if at all possible. White has got to be one of the hardest “colors” to photograph. Just remember that 20 years from now your grown children are going to look at these pictures and say things like, “I can’t believe you dressed us like that!”. Try to stay away from clothes that are too trendy. Just a little suggestion to put in your cap.
Step 4: Drink a glass of wine after having gotten everyone dressed nice and matching. Okay, onto the next step…
Step 5: Find your location. Outside? Find shade or hope for a nice overcast day. If you are going for full-sunshine, then make sure everyone has their back to the sun to minimize squinting. Inside? Find an area with a lot of light that isn’t too busy. Feel free to move your furniture around if it’s in the way. Look at your home with new eyes for interesting doors or walls, that once devoid of furniture, can make a great backdrop.
Generally, I try to find a nearby park or other interesting location for our family shoots. I have gone on trails just to check them out for photograph possibilities. I try to stay away from areas with lots of people or traffic. You are leaving your camera alone on the tripod to set up the shot, so you don’t want someone to knock it over.
Step 6: Set up your tripod/ladder/chair and take some test shots. Have your husband stand there while you shoot, since Lord knows your children won’t stand still long enough for test shots PLUS the actual family picture.
Step 7: Pour yourself another glass of wine…this is getting a little stressful.
Step 8: Get everyone in place. I am more for casual shots, so feel free to sit on the floor/ground indian style with your kids in your laps. Then everyone is close to the same level. Look at websites of your favorite photographers ahead of time to get some posing inspiration.
Step 9: Start shooting…and shoot lots. You are digital right? Those shots don’t cost a thing. This is where a remote is easier than a timer, since you don’t have to get up in between each shot and can just push the button. Are the kids smiling or at least looking happy? Try tickling…or have them say “Smelly Feet” or anything that will get them laughing/smiling.
Telling my kids to tickle each other usually gives me instant smiles before they even start attacking their sibling. Get ready to take the shot as soon as the words leave your mouth!
Step 10: Check your shots. Do you have some that will work? Success! Now to start to processing them, but that can wait….
Step 11: Might as well finish off that bottle…you deserve it after all that work! 😉
In all seriousness, taking a family picture yourself is far less stressful than going to a churn style portrait factory such as Sears, Proex, JC Penny, etc. You are in your own home, your kids are comfortable and you can take as much time as you need. Have fun with it!
Going to new and interesting places for the photoshoots keeps the kids a bit engaged. If it is “an adventure” with ice cream afterwards for cooperation (BRIBERY WORKS!), then you can usually get some pretty good shots.
Family Photo 2013 (This was at a historical park set up for the late 1800’s)
Family Photo 2012 (This was a nature area near our house overlooking a river valley. It was a short walk up the hill)
Family Photo 2011 (This is at a small town’s downtown main street that is a dead end. Very little traffic around it)
Family Photo 2010 (At an old historical house in our town that is open to the public)