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Family photos are important to a lot of people and are so fun to share with extended family and close friends whether on a Christmas or holiday greeting card or to share on a favorite social site.  Even though family photos are a great way to document the growth of a family, it’s not always easy to invest the time and money into professional photos for every year or occasion. That’s why I’m sharing with you today some simple tips for taking your own family photos even if all you have is a cell phone.  It’s easier than you may think!

5 Simple Tips for Taking your Own Family Photos for your Holiday Greetings

foil stamped buffalo plaid holiday card
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Tip 1:  Plan Ahead

Just like any other task you want to tackle, a little planning up front can go a long way toward making the entire process go smoother and successful.  Consider the location you want to shoot your photos. Figure out a time that will work where you and your family members won’t be rushed to get them done, tired or hungry.  Think about what everyone will wear, the time of day (for best lighting)

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Tip 2:  Have the Right Tools

Even if you don’t have a fancy camera to take your photos with, you can still use some tools to make the photo taking process easy.  My absolute must-have is a tripod.  

Even if you plan to take your photos with your cell phone, you should use a tripod.  I have this one. It’s a full height tri-pod with a spring clamp to hold your phone. It’s small, compact and light weight and it’s under $15.00! 

Most cell phones today have a setting to take photos on a timer.  Some will even have settings for taking 3 or five photos in succession on a timer which is even better!

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Tip 3:  Keep things Simple

Taking photos (that you have to be in as well) is going to be a lot of work.  So will keeping everyone focused on posing and staying still until enough photos are taken.  For that reason, choose simple and limited photos that will keep everyone comfortable and wont take too long to capture.

You also want to keep your background and surroundings simple.  While it may be tempting to capture a beautiful scene behind you, the focus should be your family so try to keep the background clean and simple.  A brick or stone wall, a row of shrubs, etc.

dotted holly photo holiday card
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Tip 4:  Use Natural Lighting

If you are an amateur photographer like me, natural light can be your best friend.  If at all possible, plan on taking your photos outside or if you have to be inside, in a space that gets lots of natural light. Do your best however to avoid direct sunlight as it can be too bright.  If your day is super sunny, try finding some shade.

Keep the light source (or sun) behind the camera or in the eyes of your subjects for the best results.

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Tip 5: Stagger your Heads

You definitely want to keep things simple (see Tip 3) but when deciding on your poses, avoid putting everyone’s head in a straight line.  Your photo will look better and be more interesting if the heads are staggered at different heights. Think about creating diagonal lines instead of straight across.

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Finally, have fun.  This process is supposed to be fun and you want everyone to look happy in the photo so keep things light, don’t force it too much and don’t be afraid to laugh.  Your photos should be taken to enjoy for years to come and to look back fondly on each year of your family’s growth together.

I hope these simple tips will give you the confidence to take some great family photos!


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