Fall is one of the best times to take family portraits because who doesn’t want that perfect family portrait to put on their Christmas or Holiday card, right?
Every fall people start scrambling to put together the perfect color coordinating outfits and book their favorite photographer. Photographers start lining up their clients and are booked solid from October through the middle of December.
Hopefully, the weather cooperates, no one gets sick, your photographer doesn’t have to reschedule, you manage to get your hair cut and colored in time, and everyone is in a good mood for that one hour session. Honestly, it’s just too much pressure for me.
I have never managed to send out a Christmas card with a lovely family portrait on it. I just can’t seem to get it done. I have, however, taken several family portraits of our families when we are all together. It can be challenging to get yourself in a portrait. Well here is how you do it.
- Decide on a pose before you end up running into the frame and get stuck on the outside corner in an awkward position.
- Set up your lighting. Whether you are using a reflector, an off-camera flash, or something more elaborate, set it up and test it before you get everyone in place.
- Put your camera on a tripod.
- Turn off auto-focus. If you have your camera set to auto-focus, it will focus on you when you are running into the shot or anything else that happens to move. You want to turn off auto-focus and manually focus on the person that will the closest to the camera.
- Make sure everyone will be in focus. Use a deep depth of field with an f-stop of at least 11. You may even want to use an f-stop of 13 or more depending on how many people you have in your photo.
- Use your camera’s timer or remote.
- Get everyone else in position, leaving a path and room for yourself.
- Leave yourself enough time to get in to position.
- Set your camera to take several pictures at a time.
- Try to look natural and smile.
Taking your family’s portrait doesn’t have to be stressful. You can definitely do it yourself. All you need is a tripod and a camera with a timer or remote. You might even get away with setting the camera on something other than a tripod.
This is my family a few years ago. It’s definitely time for a retake, but as you can see, we kept this really casual. We were outside on a scavenger hunt and when I had my camera ready, I just called everyone over. The sun was setting behind us which gave us some backlighting and I set up a reflector in front of us.
Here is another one I took of my husband’s family. I had pretty much the same lighting set up with the sun behind us and a reflector in front of us. The sun was much higher and there was nothing to filter the sun in this one, though.
I am going to try this again this fall with my family. The kids are growing too fast and I want to be sure and capture all the moments I can.
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