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How to Take a Great Family Portrait at Home

taking a family portrait at home
Getting that perfect holiday family portrait can be tricky even at the best of times. This year, many of us are unable to enlist the help of a professional photographer and so we’re left to capture that magic moment at home, on our smartphone - eek! 

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! We’ve compiled a simple guide so that you can learn how to take a great family portrait without the fuss.

Play Dress Up

This is a great excuse to get the family out of their sweat pants and into something fabulous! Go glam with sequins and sparkles or make it fun with matching onesies. Color themes are a great idea and will keep your image looking cohesive and professional.

Set Your Studio

Face a window if possible, so that you are well lit. Hanging holiday gift wrap to the wall behind you to create a “studio backdrop” is a fun, inexpensive trick. Likewise, cascading string lights in low light make for a professional, festive look. 

PRO-TIP: Avoid direct sunlight as it’ll cast dark shadows across your face!

Fake a Tripod!

A tripod keeps your smartphone steady which means less blur - a common problem with family portraits! It also allows you to use the timer function on your smartphone so that you can jump into the shot at the last minute. In the absence of a tripod, you can fake it by propping your phone on a bookshelf or stool. Lean it up against a paperweight or hardback book to keep it steady. Just be sure to position the camera at the height of the center of the group to keep everyone in shot. 

Scrap the flash

The flash will produce harsh light so make sure it’s turned off. You can play around with some of the image functions on your phone, like ‘portrait’ mode to see which produces the best results. Be sure to practice before you have the family gathered around for the picture - the little ones will tire very quickly!

Speaking of Kids...

A hanging mobile or twinkly lights just above the phone lens will keep younger kids focused in the right direction.

Have something fun for older kiddos to do once the portrait taking is over - bake the Holiday cookies or plan a festive family movie night. Having something to look forward to should keep them “on task” until it’s over. You can also give them a discreet "fidget spinner" to play with during the shoot. 

Photographing Furry Friends

Start by allowing your pet to get used to the camera - snap some pictures around your furry friend first and allow them to investigate if they want to. If you want to capture action shots, be sure to start before their playtime or exercise. If you’re looking for more of a serene shot, do it after when they’re a little tuckered out.

Holding a treat just above the phone is great for patient pups - it’ll allow you to get shots of them looking attentively in the direction of the lens. For those that get too excited when treats are on the cards, try holding their favorite toy just above the lens instead. Using the ‘burst’ function if your phone has one, is perfect for capturing multiple images in a short space of time. Either way, be prepared to take lots of images, then scroll through to find “the one”. 

Festive Filters

Once you have captured the perfect family portrait, you don’t have to stop there! You can find lots of digital tools online that allow you to add festive filters to your image, and many will offer them for free. Borders, glitter, snow effects and more can be layered onto your digital image easily and inexpensively. Just search “photograph filters” online. 

All that remains is for you to choose whether to have your family holiday portraits printed and mailed, or dive into the digital age and email your perfect portrait to family and friends. Whichever way you choose, don’t forget to add this one to the family photo album.