Improve Your Christmas Photographs

If your family is anything like mine then the Holidays are likely be the few times that you will have everyone together in one place. So many of us want to take advantage of this time together by taking a family photograph. With that in mind, I thought I’d offer you some tips on making a better family portrait this year.


Find a place that offers ample room for everyone to gather.

  • Outdoors
  • Garage
  • Living Room
  • Sunroom
  • Open Kitchen


Try to void using your camera’s flash, it isn’t flattering.

  • Don’t place everyone in front of a bright window with their backs to it.
  • Faces towards the light!
  • Ceiling Lights
  • Lamps
  • Setup

When backs are to the window, the people in the portrait end up being too dark because the camera has tried to expose for the brightest scene…the window.

family portrait with everyone
My beautiful family at Thanksgiving

However, natural light from a window is beautiful when lighting the face. If no choice, close the blinds and use the ceiling lights or lamps. Ceiling lights are probably not the best option alone so, add lamps next to the side walls (white walls preferred), to the left and right sides of the grouping area. Place one lamp near the camera (center of the group/behind the camera) as well…this will also provide a nice catch light in the eyes.

Get your lighting setup before you call everyone together if you can. At least get the lighting needed into the room you’re going to take the photograph in so everyone isn’t waiting on you.


Use seating and standing positions together. Take control!

  • Love Seat
  • Ottoman
  • Chairs
  • Bar Stools
  • Move Furniture

Use a love seat, bar stools, or kitchen chairs for the older folks to be comfortable. Once you get Grandma and Grandpa seated, begin to think like a Tetris master and place everyone else around them.

A family crazy photo
A crazy pic taken first can ease everyone into a better family portrait…it’s also plain out fun!

Don’t just have everyone standing shoulder to shoulder. Have the smaller family groups/couples touching/leaning into one another. Parents can hold kids if needed or sit some kids, (and some adults), on the arms of the chair around the Grandparents. Utilize the floor in front of the chair for some children. The goal is to make everyone fit, and look a part of the family…one that loves each other!


Besides just a camera

  • Self timer functioning camera
  • Tri-pod or books to sit camera up right
  • Fast feet and a clear path

You need about 10 seconds to get yourself into place. Oh yeah, you should have your spot chosen beforehand. Set the focus, and then hit the button for it to begin its countdown to shoot. Get in place and have everyone smile/look at the camera.



Don’t expect a perfect photo!

  • Don’t pressure everyone for the perfect photo
  • Just get everyone included in the portrait
  • Not everyone will have the best smile, look, or even be paying attention
  • Capture the moment and memories, not the perfect picture
  • Most of all…

Have a Merry Christmas with your family!

A Year of Senior and Family Photography

At the end of 2016, I decided I would focus on photography as a serious business pursuit in 2017, instead of just the hobby it had been for 11 years. Over those 11 years, I predominantly photographed landscapes, with the occasional high school prom session thrown in from time to time.

Around March of this year, I seized the opportunity to help a group of people that were taking a branding workshop for entrepreneurs volunteering to be one of 5 photographers to help out. I was paired up with a young lady named, Lindsay, looking to start an in-home healthy meal prep service. This forced me out of my comfort zone working with someone I’d never met beforehand. However, I found it to be quite an enjoyable experience as we had a lot of fun with the session. The idea was to take some photos at the local farmer’s market, and then some at my home with her “posing” to prep a meal. Photographing in these two settings was a good challenge due to the lighting differences and needs…forcing me to experiment and learn.

It was after that experience with Lindsay that I decided I wanted to photograph people. That began with the idea of senior photography. Being as how my wife and I have worked with our church youth for so many years, and the fact that I enjoy working with that age, I decided to put my intentions out there. Senior-Andrew-KannapolisI took a former youth member (now 21) out for a fun modeling portrait session downtown Kannapolis and we had a great time. Around this same time, a mom of a teen in our church asked me to do a sweet sixteen session with her daughter.

A few weeks after those first couple of teen photo sessions, I was asked to do a family session for a cousin of my wife’s. So we set that up and had our family session on the property of my in-laws. Again, this was an enjoyable experience, along with its own set of new challenges for me. This also afforded me the opportunity to try another lighting situation full of challenges going from natural light, day light, to nightfall coming and using off camera flash.

After a year of experience photographing seniors, families, and children, there was still one more challenge to overcome…pets. So with that, my sister wanted some portraits made of her little man, Baxter, giving me just that opportunity. pet-portrait-hh-pearl-canvas-2Using my Christmas studio setups we did just that, as well as producing Christmas cards, prints, and a gorgeous pearl canvas of her little man.

I have truly had a blessed year with the opportunity to meet and work with so many different folks from all around my little town of Kannapolis. Thanks to you all for allowing me to work with each of you and your families. I have truly found something I have a great passion for and that serves people.

So here’s to a new year! A year in which I will be even more focus and know the direction I want to take Gerald Faulkner Photography. To you and yours, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

We shall see you again in 2018!