Say Cheese! 5 Tips to Take Better DIY Family Photos

DIY family photos can be quite fickle. The end result usually turns into a memory that you’ll treasure for a lifetime, but orchestrating it to perfection is a task that isn’t for the faint of heart. There are so many different variables that go into a successful family photo, and as the family historian, we’re assuming you’re always looking for ways to get better family photos. We’ve got just what you need — here are five tips to help you get better DIY family photos!

Don’t Fret About Tech

Many people are daunted by family photos when they take a look at the cameras and equipment they have at their disposal. We often scroll through Facebook or Instagram and see professional photographers who have cameras that look like they’re from the year 2035, which can make us feel like we can’t produce the results that they can.

Here’s the bottom line: If you have a smartphone, you can create some great family photos. Today’s phones possess cameras that are equivalent to or surpass many of the digital cameras on the market. Just wipe off the lens of the phone’s camera and use settings like “Portrait Mode” to get the best photo possible — you’ll be surprised with how great of a photo you’ll get.

If you’d like even more tools to improve your at-home photography, check out these items:

  • Selfie Stick: If you’re looking to have flexibility and want the ability to adjust the angle of your photos as you go, then a selfie stick is exactly what you’re looking for. You’ll get a wider view for your photo and you’ll be able to experiment with different angles and looks for your photos.
  • Smartphone Tripod + Remote: You probably know about the photo timers that smartphones have, but did you know that you can get smartphone tripods with remotes that enable you to snap the photo with the click of a button? This makes it easier for you to pose for photos without having to click the timer, run into place and smile.
  • Photo-Editing App: While the high-end apps like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom certainly give you more options when it comes to photo editing, for your family photo needs you don’t need all the bells and whistles of those apps. Apps such as VSCO, Snapseed or even the editing options on Instagram give you everything you need to tune up your photos and make them look great.
  • Cameras: If you’re looking to get serious about your at-home photography, then it might be worth checking out some of the cameras on the market. For a little over $100, you can get some great digital cameras with multiple functions and options.

Location, Location, Location

Just like real estate, photography is all about location. You obviously want to have an interesting background for your family photos, but you want to make sure that it’s not too interesting or complicated that the viewer can’t focus on you and your family. When you’re looking for the right backdrop, here are some things to look for.

  • Look out for distractions such as branches, loose leaves, pets or pedestrians that may detract from the subjects of the photo (you!).
  • Find someplace with a clean backdrop. If you have to, get creative with the backdrop and create your own with something like a curtain or a blank wall.
  • Lighting is key. Good lighting can turn a good photo into a great photo, and finding the right lighting is crucial for getting your photo to look good. Find something that isn’t so bright that you and your family are squinting, but still bright enough that you shine in the photo.

Dress for Success

Family photos are a special occasion — this is a photo you’ll be displaying and sharing with loved ones for years to come. Because of that, you’ll want to make sure that the whole family looks their absolute best. You don’t need to have outfits that completely match, but a cohesive palette and complementing textures and patterns can make your photos look absolutely great.

In terms of palette, here are some options that always look good:

  • Pale/soft shades: Pale shades will keep the attention on your faces while also helping you pop.
  • Natural Earth Tones: Earth tones like pine green, brown and rust are the perfect way to deviate from standard bright colors that may be present in the background.
  • Bright pops: Add bits of personality to your photos, but be careful not to overdo it! Stay away from neon shades.

Here are some of the routes you can go in terms of texture and patterns:

  • Flannel: You can never go wrong with flannel. Pick a coordinating palette and get all sorts of different flannel variations with it and go nuts!
  • Gingham: Gingham gives your photos a classic vintage style. Give the men a fun gingham tie and have the women wear a fun dress or accessory.

Keep it Natural

The whole point of family photos is to show the world what your family looks like and who you are at this moment in time. Don’t be afraid to make them your own! Start off the session by taking some typical photos where you are posed together and smiling, but then try having fun with it. Try some soft smiles or some silly ones. Get a photo where you’re all looking at each other, rather than the camera. If you’re feeling extra affectionate, maybe even throw in a group hug!

Make it Fun

Let’s be honest — you may enjoy family photo day, but the children of the family may not have as much fun with it. If you want natural smiles that exude pure joy, you may have to come up with some unique ways to get some laughs out of the family. Try things such as gently lifting your child up in the air, dancing, jumping, tickling or even incorporating a furry friend in the picture! It’s a great day spent with your family — don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just have fun!

Hopefully these tips will help make your DIY family photos a hit in 2020! What tips do you have to make your family photos look better? Let us know in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Say Cheese! 5 Tips to Take Better DIY Family Photos

  1. Nothing can complete with family……. I just love these photos…… family having fun, simply being together……………BRAVO!! for family!!

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