With the holidays coming up, this is the time of year when a lot of us start thinking about family pictures. While some people honestly love it, many see it a laborious task to be endured.
But having your picture taken doesn’t have to feel like pulling teeth without anaesthesia. We are talking, after all, about capturing a moment in time, and those memories are priceless. I love getting the annual family Christmas cards from faraway friends, and seeing the difference a year really can make. Plus, grandparent gifts are a no-brainer. We turn our memories into something extra special. The kids have helped me assemble photo books and slide shows for a digital frame; we’ve made memo pads and calendars, and one year we even made jigsaw puzzles out of images from our family reunion. There are many easy and affordable possibilities.
But, you still have to take the pictures. So here are a few quick tips for getting better images and making family posing less of a chore and more of a joy:
-For family portraits, pick a colour theme. Not everyone has to wear the exact same thing, but it gives the images a nice symmetry if you’re all in complementary colours. (For example, tell everyone to wear jeans with a blue or yellow top.)
-To avoid looking stiff while standing, put one foot forward with a slight bend in the knee, while keeping your weight on the back leg.
-If you’re taking pictures outdoors and looking for that warm glow, try shooting 1 to 2 hours before sunset. Photographers call it “The Golden Hour” and you’ll have the images to prove it. But that’s not always practical for family gatherings, so an easy fix for mid-day photos is to flip your flash on. That extra burst of light will help combat the sharp contrasts and unflattering shadows you’ll often get photographing at that time of day.
-Did you know Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, the woman who created Anne of Green Gables, was a photographer? One of her favourite tricks was to get people to say “brush”. It may not create the perfect smile, but it will get the group to shake off any camera nerves as they try it out on each other.
-When you’re photographing kids, get down to their level. The view really is different down there and it actually helps them relax.
-Also, let them be who they are. Every picture tells a story and some of the best shots are kids just being kids. Whether they’re jumping, playing, giggling or pouting, you’re going to capture a precious moment in their life.
-Props can help even the grumpiest tot (or grandparent for that matter!) A hat, a stuffie, a bouquet of flowers are all great diversions. Let them play and snap away. You’ll be happy with the results. And if you’re really daring, pre-set a splash mat to protect your furniture and let them loose with a cake…
-Make a story board by taking a series of images of family activities. From baking cookies and drawing pictures to raking leaves and playing ball, they’re all moments you’ll look back on and be glad you have.
-There is a trick to taking that perfect shot of your Christmas tree or lit menorah. Step 1 is to turn off your flash. Step 2 is keeping as still as possible so your pictures don’t blur. Use a tripod, a table, or even an elbow rested on your knee. It can make the difference between blurry & brilliant.
Happy holidays and remember to always keep your camera handy –you never know when that perfect photo-op might pop up.
Article by Racheal McCaig