Planning to take a family photo for your Christmas card or other holiday greetings can be a major hassle. Older kids might be out of the house or your busy schedule could get in the way, which is why you may be tempted to take the picture in the spur of the moment. Whether you're all together for a hiking trip or grandma's big birthday, seize the opportunity to snap a few lovely frames. Of course, you and your family may not be perfectly coordinated, but it's no matter! Follow these tips to get a great picture for those Christmas cards, no matter what you're all wearing:
Make the people the subject
In any photograph you take, you should always define and focus on a subject. Your surroundings could easily become the focal point of the picture if you don't shoot with care. In this case, you and your family are the most important. Make sure the camera is zoomed in close on the people. That doesn't mean you only have to take a picture of your bust, it just means cropping the frame closely. For example, you can capture the entire body of the person in the foreground (or nearest the camera). Crop the picture closely to their head or feet. You can, of course, cut out feet or limit the shot to waist up, whatever you want.
Incorporate numerous levels
Having your family stand in a straight line for your Christmas card is, well, boring. Add levels (or various heights) to the photo by having some people, sit, kneel or stand. You can even make use of your natural surroundings to alter the subjects' positions. For example, have your family stand on a staircase or the rocks you're climbing while on your camping trip.
If you have small children, changing levels is rather easy. The kids could stand in front of you, or you can stagger between adult and child. Take several pictures in which you change the way you're standing. That way, you can choose from numerous compositions, all of which contain interesting poses.
Tweak and test your camera's settings
Most cameras come with the ability to change the settings, which is especially true if you own a professional device. The settings you use for a close up inside are far different than those you'll want for an outdoor family portrait. Quickly check your settings, snap a few shots for reference and adjust as needed.
Loosen everyone up
Believe it or not, some people get nervous when they are being photographed – shocker, right? The fear of looking silly can cause many people to freeze up, giving them a rigid look in the picture. You want your family portrait to look natural and relaxed, so help your loved ones calm down a bit. Just because they aren't in their best outfits for this impromptu shoot doesn't mean they can't look amazing. Have everyone assume a slackened posture, such as hands in the pockets, shifting weight to one leg or leaning against a wall. Show your family what you mean by demonstrating. Consider assigning a different pose to each person. Basically, think of how people normally stand when they aren't posing.
Bring out the best side
Have everyone check their hair for flyaways before posing. Then place people in a flattering posture. By posing the arms away from the body, you help them look leaner (no torso pressing the muscle outward). People who are self conscious about being taller than the rest of the group can spread their legs apart slightly to appear shorter.
Above all, have fun
The most natural, relaxed and fun picture will occur as a result of your family simply being themselves. Mess around with each other, have the kids run down the beach or play, whatever you want!