It’s that time of year when many of us are having updated family, couple, etc. photos taken to print and share on pretty holiday cards to send to family and friends. There are few things that I love more than photographs, but I don’t necessarily enjoy the (what can be) expensive price tag that local photographers charge for a session. And, then I had an epiphany this year – I have a nice set of photography equipment, as well as an experienced photographer a.k.a. my husband, so why not take our own family photos to save a buck?! And, guess what? You can, too!
We had a family photo shoot at the end of October, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out – sure, are they as sharp and nicely edited as they would be by a professional? No way, but they hold even more meaning to me that we did them ourselves, and I love to stop everyday and look at the three that we chose to hang in our hallway.
It definitely wasn’t a walk in the park to get our favorite shots, however. These are my best tips and advice that I can give to anybody looking to take their own photos, and I hope our mistakes are your gain. But if you’re only here to enjoy some of the outtakes, I hope that you get a good laugh!
| Make sure that you have the right equipment (and that it works!). If you’re going to attempt to take your own family photos, a tripod and wireless remote camera are essential – just make sure that everything works ahead of time. We had never used our wireless remote before, so we were a bit annoyed that it didn’t work once we had set everything up and got into position for the photo. Thus, we had to resort to one of us running back and forth to hit the shutter button to activate the timer.
| Go shoot “on location”. Unless you’re more comfortable shooting photos in or right outside your home, it’s always fun to go shoot somewhere in your town, such as a local park, main street, etc. Think about the type of setting that you want, and then Google places near you that you think can help you achieve that look. I wanted some of what was left of the fall foliage in our photos, so we went to a big park/hiking trail right near our house and tucked ourselves away into a little wooded area.
| Coordinate outfits. Long gone are the days of being matchy-matchy with your partner or family in photos; instead, opt for a coordinated look with colors and patterns that complement what the other is wearing. I always am a believer that less is more when having your photos taken as a family since you are the focus, not the clothes, so we stuck to one pattern – Ryan in plaid – and I kept it neutral in a cream sweater.
| Have lots of bribes/distractions for your pet. If you plan to include your family pet in your photos, good luck to you. Ha! Finley was none too happy with us at first, but luckily he finally started to calm down and always seemed to look at the camera at the last minute to help us get the photo. We always had a toy nearby to keep him occupied in between photos, and we also left one at the base of the tripod so he would look forward at it for the camera. Treats don’t hurt either.
| Know what poses you want to shoot ahead of time. To help speed along the process, especially if you have young children or a pet in your photos, it’s helpful to have a general idea of what poses you want for the photos. We knew we wanted some standing up, some sitting/kneeling, and then individual photos of Finn and some of just Ryan and I as a couple. This is helpful so you can set up your camera and equipment accordingly for each pose, and you can prioritize the most important ones in the event that you start to lose daylight.
| Have FUN! This probably seems pretty obvious, but don’t take this too seriously – remember that you’re not a professional photographer, so there’s no reason to get mad or try to achieve perfection (trust me, I’m speaking from experience). Some of the best photos are the unplanned, candid ones that you can’t pose to show a specific type of emotion. Just roll with it, enjoy your time together as a family, and look forward to seeing the end results.
Have you ever taken your own family photos? What are your best tips?