We already know that it’s incredibly important for kids to see their parents in family photos. It creates a kind of team spirit, where everyone is represented and happy. But for the parents… sometimes it can be tricky to figure out how to make the best of these occasions. Especially considering its vacation, everyone is probably a mixture of excited, giddy, distracted, and tired. Isn’t that what vacations are for, after all? Creating those happy moments when you’ve all just piled off the roller coaster with your hair sticking out in eight directions, everyone is beaming and chatting about their favorite part of the ride. On the other hand, you may or may not have had to break up a spat between two kids over who got the ‘better’ seat on the roller coaster just a few minutes before. All this can happen right before that camera clicks! So although this is definitely not the winning picture for this year’s Christmas card, it is an awesome time to capture a family moment.
So, we’ve laid out a few tips and guidelines to help you plan out and make the best of those snapshot moments. Compiled from what we have learned in practice as portrait artists and read from other photographers, we present to you a condensed summary of tips on how to take family vacation photos that everyone pictured can feel good about!
Tip 1: Cuddle!
Try and act like you like each other. :) There’s no need to stand in an awkward lineup since the kids will treasure a ‘group hug’ photo far more anyway! Have the younger kids stand in front, and relax your stance. Remember, the energy you put out will change how the little ones act too. If you’re stressed, self-conscious, or only half smiling, the kids will pick up on it and so will the camera. Think about all the fun you’ve been having, maybe prompt the kids to do the same right before they take the picture so you can get genuine smiles and relaxed posture in the picture.
Tip 2: Shutter Speed.
There is a setting on many cameras and phone cameras that take many, many snapshots. This will give you a better chance of finding a shot where everyone is smiling with their eyes open all in the same picture!
Tip 3: Get the Angle Right.
If you can, nicely ask the person taking your family picture to stand on a bench or up on their toes even to get an angle downward onto your faces. Pictures that have an overhead angle slim everyone out and is generally more forgiving for any figure shape. On top of that, psychologically angling your head downward is a very natural way to produce feelings of shame and sadness- even animals hang their head in shame sometimes. That is definitely not the look you’re going for in a family photo! Looking upward happens to have the opposite emotional response. So look up, smile, and giggle a bit at the stranger you’ve successfully coerced into standing on a bench for your group picture. If anything, it’ll make for a great story later on.
Tip 4: Posture.
This is easy to mess up, especially if you’re sitting down. Sit up, scootch together, cross your knees or ankles, and try to get the camera aimed at least directly at eye level when sitting. For standing photos, use similar tactics and stand up tall, put your arms around each other, and even lean forward a little bit towards the camera together.
Tip 5: Body Blocking.
For those who might be a little self-conscious, there is a way you can still stay involved in the pictures and feel great about them. By standing behind the kids or other adults in the photo, you get a lovely profile without worrying about the rest, so you can enjoy your family photo worry free. Just make sure to stay engaged with the picture by staying close behind your family or putting your arms around them. You’ll want to remain connected to the group even in the back.
Tip 6: Silhouettes.
This is a fun and creative way to get a family group photo you’ll love- line up everyone during a sunset so that you see just your figures contrasted against a yellow-orange sky, and strike a pose! Be sure to pass off the camera to a friend before running up to join the family. Not only will the silhouettes eliminate the need to retake for blinking or frowny faces, it’s also a great way to let your kids express their unique personalities in a happy pose they pick all on their own.
Tip 7: Movement.
Although this can be tricky to time if the kids are younger than 6 or 7, try a photo where you’re all walking forward. It will give the pictures a feeling of exploration. Other variations are to try this running away from or toward your destination. For example, have a park employee snap a picture of the family holding hand and making a deadbolt for that roller coaster your son’s been yammering on about the entire drive out.
Tip 8: Filters & Selfies.
Generally, avoid using filters or selfies for photos that you want to put on the Christmas card or up on the wall. There’s nothing wrong with group selfies or sepia tone, but pictures like these are relatively easy to come by now, so make it just a little bit more of a special occasion by having a friend take the picture. If you’re worried it won’t turn out, have them take multiple (see Tip 2) so you can be choosy later on. The only except to the filter rule is black and white. For a softer look in the picture, try it in black and white and see if it brings something especially timeless to your photo.
So, there you go! A few tips from us on how to look your best in family pictures this summer vacation. Remember the most important thing- smile! We know that this is a possibly overused piece of advice, but it’s also underdone. Think about where you are, something that brings you a bit of joy and shares it with the family. It’ll make for a more fun vacation, and the best souvenir you’ll bring home will be these treasured snapshots. Not perfect, but joyful all the same. If you’re looking for a place to get your family’s portrait done in an artistic, high-quality style where the essence of each member is truly portrayed (rather than the emotions of the moment), come see us at Caitlyn Bom Fine Art Portraiture. Caitlyn will work with your family, and even the family pet, to bring you together in a beautiful portrait using both new and classic methods and technology, as something you can pass down as a family heirloom for someday when those kids have families of their own. In the meantime, enjoy your vacation!