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!