You know how hard it is to get great family photos?
Yes, I imagine that you probably do. Let me just state for the record that it is NOT. STINKING. EASY. Especially with wriggling little Oompah Loompahs who don’t like the whole sit still and don’t mess up your cute little outfit lecture. Seriously, after half an hour of juggling and coaching and trying to smile for the picture, there are countless other activities that sound more appealing. Like a root canal, for instance. Or two. Oy, vey.
But then, I realize how ridiculously fast time is slipping by. Seriously, wasn’t it just yesterday that I was the approximate size and shape of a beached whale 8 months pregnant with Malachi? I am all about keeping the Oompah Loompahs little, but stacking bricks on their heads isn’t working. (Yes, I am joking.) The best I can do is savor each day and get some decent photos to look back on when I finally sit down in my old lady rocking chair with Superman. (Keep reading for practical tips on lighting, makeup, and posing.)
I will miss the constant interruptions (or so I’ve been told), the cute mispronunciations (such as bee STINK, not bee sting, and DESTRUCTION site, not construction site.) And their cuteness. Oh, my goodness. The cuteness melts me every time. I want it frozen in time, and while I love candid photos, I want some frame-worthy portraits, too. But family photos with wiggly small people and the non-wiggling small budget of a single income household is HARD.
A few months ago, when I got serious about re-launching the blog, I had the opportunity to meet with an amazing photographer, Carla Lyle. She’s a wife, mom, Jesus-lover, and the owner of 4:13 Photography. We began the day as acquaintances, but her easy smile and sense of humor soon landed us in friend territory. Carla has an intuitive style. She just instinctively knows what is going to work, without ever crossing the line into bossy territory. If you live in NH or southern Maine, you’re in time to book for fall family photos. She was a total blast, who cracked me up on multiple occasions during the shoot. Give her a call: (603) 986-3962. She’s agreed to give a FREE upgrade from the Joyful Package to the Lovely Package ($25 value) JUST FOR MY LOVELY READERS!!!
If you happen to not live close enough to take advantage of 4:13 Photography (message her to get the story behind the name), you can still improve the quality of your family photos. I even made a free printable to help out (’cause who doesn’t like a cute little printable, right?) 🙂 I’ve been
bugging nagging asking for a photo of her to include here so you can see her beautiful face, but no luck so far. You’ll have to go on Facebook if you want to see her.
And then, for those of you who can’t swing the cost of a photographer at all, I have a couple of tips to get some nice photos without spending a dime.
1) Figure out the details ahead of time.
Get your background figured out. Set up a chair or two if you need it. If you’re using a tripod, get it in place. Snap a few practice photos to make sure the focus is good, and the flash is set to your liking. But most importantly:
2) Timing is key.
Don’t try to squeeze in a photo sesh after a harried day of errands and running around. Make sure that little tummies are full, it’s not nap time, and no one is past the point of exhaustion. (You have about a five minute window if your family is like ours.) 🙂
Also, if you’re doing outside photos, be aware that strong sunlight is not your friend. A slightly overcast day or early evening is best. You need something to diffuse the sunlight, so that faces aren’t washed out. If you’re doing inside photos, again, be aware of the lighting. You may want to place a lamp close to the floor if the overhead lights are strong so that there aren’t harsh shadows (or pronounced dark circles under the eyes of haggard parents.) 🙂
3) Don’t Wing It.
Seriously. Figure out the outfits a day or two ahead, iron or mend anything that needs it, and spend some time the big day putting yourself together. I like to try to have us wear coordinating colors, but some people love to have everyone wear the same outfit, and some really don’t care! My advice is to just be the best versions of yourself, without trying to be anyone else. Yes, you want to have a great photo, but you also want to stay true to who you are as a family.
4) Some practical girly tips:
Be aware that lighting will wash you out, so go with a slightly more dramatic version of your usual makeup routine. For me, this means dark chocolate eyeliner instead of medium brown, several coats of mascara, and a little extra blush and eyeshadow. (You can wipe it all off as soon as you’re done, promise.) Also, delicate jewelry is often not visible in a photo, so choose accordingly. The color closest to your face should be extra flattering, so use a blouse, sweater, or scarf in a color that looks amazing on you.
5) Finally, posing to minimize flaws is a subject you can research, but here’s a few easy pointers that can benefit all of us:
- Don’t hide your neck. Keep it long (don’t dip your chin or lift your shoulders up.) Good posture, without being stiff, is what you’re looking for.
- Straight on is not the most flattering. Turning your body even slightly will slim your profile, or you can have a little person standing in front of you (my favorite trick!) 🙂
- For double chins, you can push your chin out ever so slightly, and it will minimize the issue. Think loooooong neck!
- If your arms are large, choose an angle rather than facing the camera straight on or completely profile. Relax your arms, but don’t push them up against your side.
- Smile big, but not huge. A great smile is contagious, but don’t cheese it up so much that you lose your eyes. And definitely, do smile with your eyes.
- Lastly, make sure that you are connected with the family members – your hand in his, their head on your shoulder…something that shows how much you all really do love each other! Communicate the family bond through the photo, and you will have a priceless portrait to cherish for the rest of your life!
To make it easy, I have a Posing 101 tip sheet for you! Score!
If you found this helpful, would you let me know in the comments and share with your friends? Thanks a million!
Preparation Is Key
Here at Searching For Eden, we’re all about the intentional life. Getting intentional about great family photos starts with preparation. Grab your checklist here!
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