In our role as parents, we have a lot of important responsibilities, including documenting every milestone, holiday, and cute moment that occurs during our kids’ lives. This time of year in particular, we want to make sure we don’t miss important photo opportunities like back-to-school and Halloween. And then before you know it, the holidays are upon us. These fall family photo tips will help you get great pictures in no time. (Or skip to the end for tips about getting the most out of a family photo shoot with a photographer).
(This post may contain affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission on products purchased through these links. However, all opinions are strictly my own.)
Simple Photo Tips
Thanks to cell phones, we can snap a pic without a lot of thought most of the time and quickly archive it by posting on social media. But many of us scroll through others’ posts and can’t help wondering why their pictures seem to look so much better than ours.
There are a few simple changes you can make that require very little effort and will improve your photos dramatically. Take a few seconds to consider the following elements before you snap the shutter.
Learn to See Light
Lighting is the single most important part of a good picture, and when you know what to look for, you can use it to your advantage.
For starters, natural light (from a window or outside) always looks better in photos than indoor lighting, unless you have professional lighting equipment. ALWAYS! So if you can position yourself near a window or glass door, do it. However, do not put a window directly your subject or they will come out look super dark.
Next, look at shadows and spots that are lighter than others and adjust as needed. For example, in the middle of the day when the sun is high, the light is harsh and unforgiving, and creates horrible shadows on faces. Look for an evenly shaded area to stand in instead. Trees can also create problems when light spots get through between the leaves.
Without getting overly complicated, white balance relates to the color temperature in the picture. When you look at something white, does it look white, blue, yellow, etc? The closer you can get to true white, the better the rest of the image will look.
You’ve probably seen lots of photo tips from Instagram pros about how the right pose can make you look thinner or more attractive. Well, they’re not wrong. Try raising the camera to look down on your subject – don’t shoot up their nose!
Make sure everyone puts their hands down. Your hand is around the same size as your face, so a simple hand on someone’s shoulder can draw the eye away from the face and toward the giant hand.
Imagine a grid (or use the one in your camera if it has one) that divides the shot into nine squares, or horizontal thirds and vertical thirds. Your eye will naturally be drawn to the parts of the photo that lie on those lines, so putting your subject right in the center isn’t always the best option.
For close up shots, try to line the eyes up with the top third or shift to one side so the nose lines up with one of the vertical lines.
Hire a Professional
Use the photo tips above for spontaneous pictures and family events, but when it comes to portraits, a professional photographer is absolutely worth it. Plus, you’ll actually get to be in some of the pictures.
If you are worried about fitting a photo shoot into your budget, ask around. Everyone knows someone who takes photos professionally or as a hobby. Be cautious, because in many cases, it is true that you get what you pay for.
However, many photographers don’t charge what they are worth, especially when it is a hobby or side gig and not their full-time job. Get recommendations from friends, then ask to see samples of their work and choose the one that best fits your style and needs.
Get Your Photos Printed
This is the most important of all photo tips, the ultimate secret to getting the most value out of a snapshot, the number one thing everyone can do better. Be honest, how many photos are sitting on your hard drive or computer that you haven’t looked at in years?
Did you know that displaying photos of your kids in your home can actually raise their self esteem? Psychologists recommend frequently showing your child family pictures that include them because it encourages feelings of love and belonging. Children also pick up on the subliminal message that you have a picture of them hanging on the wall because they are important to you.
How to Get the Best Family Pictures
Once you have hired a photographer and committed to having family pictures taken, it’s time to plan out the details. These photo tips will help you get a family picture you love and can’t wait to hang on the wall.
LOCATION – Choose a location that won’t have distracting elements in the background. Trust the photographer if you are unsure.
TIMING – Schedule your pictures in the early morning or late evening when the sun is low and golden. The light is softer, more evenly dispersed, and more flattering.
CLOTHING – Coordinate your family’s clothing to be complementary, but don’t try to look identical. Choose a basic color scheme and use solid colors on shirts. Patterns should be reserved for smaller accent items so they won’t be distracting.
BRIBE THE KIDS – I know, in general, avoid bribing. But seriously – bribe the kids. Give them a reason to cooperate and gently remind them of it during the shoot if they start to have a hard time. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or expensive.
GET SENTIMENTAL – If there is a location, item of clothing, or object that represents a loved one or means something to your family, don’t be shy about including it in the photos. When you look back at them later, you will be glad they were documented.