Whether you're trying to take a family portrait for your Christmas card, Facebook or to hang on your wall, there's no doubt that capturing family memories is one of the most important things you can do. With the holiday season upon us, now's the perfect time to capture those moments before they slip away.
But don't fret—it doesn't have to be expensive or difficult! In fact, with just a little planning and creativity, you can turn your holiday season into a series of beautiful photographs that will last for years to come. So let's take a look at how we can make sure those precious moments aren't lost forever. But first, it’s important to consider…
What is a good photo made up of?
Photographs are art, so that’s an objective question. Focus on capturing the setting and emotion—not just the people in the photograph. You want a picture that will last a lifetime, not just one that sits in your camera roll collecting digital dust.
Take time to consider what each photo means to your family as a whole, not just how it looks at face value (or through an iPhone lens). When I’m taking iPhone photos, the “good” ones are also clear and well-lit.
Here are our top tips for curating wall-worthy photos of the people you love in this season of life:
Choose the Right Background
Like with most things in life, it’s a good idea to keep your background simple. But to be clear: I’m not saying to find your plain-est, white-est wall.
If you’re hosting this season, keeping a tidy backdrop may feel like mission impossible.
PRO TIP: Take your photo in daylight, out of direct sunlight when possible. You can open your front door with all the indoor and outdoor lights off and pose your family in front of it (more on posing down there👇).
FEELING FANCY? USE TEXTURE TO ADD DEPTH
If shooting the portrait inside and the white wall isn’t working for you, try using texture to add depth.
Here’s an example of how I do this in the studio:
Think soft blankets, pillows, textured rugs, your favorite accent chair - you name it!
Leverage Your iPhone Settings
USE THE BACK CAMERA
It’s tempting to use your front-facing phone camera in selfie mode to compose your image in real-time. While this may make getting the photo easier, faster and with less trial and error, the image quality will be lower.
The self-timer feature is not available with the forward facing camera.
SELF TIMER TUTORIAL
First open the Camera app, then follow the below prompts:
Tap the arrow in the top-center of the screen.
Above the shutter button, you’ll see a new menu of options, swipe to reveal more options. When you see the self-timer icon, tap it.
Finally, select the time option you’d like to use. I recommend 10 seconds. Using the maximum will give your runner a moment to pose and catch their breath.
ADJUST IPHONE CAMERA SETTINGS
If you’re still reading, you likely notice the distinct difference between a portrait photograph and a simple snap. Portrait photography can be challenging to master.
My portfolio is filled with Portrait Photography samples to reference.
Here’s how to get a pro look on your iPhone:
The iPhone camera is a wide-angle lens, so you’ll want to be mindful of how the edges of the images may be distorted.
I recommend using the Portrait mode where possible or if you’re using Photo mode, use 2x. At this point, it’s all about posing your subjects so you can tweak the camera angle and position.
Pose Your Subjects with Confidence
Posing matters. It's one of the many skills that set professional family portraits apart from iPhone snaps. The goal of posing is to ensure everyone makes it in the frame.
Try to create levels in your photo. Here’s an example:
POSING WITH KIDS
Like most things in life, DIY portrait photography is more complex with kids. The good news is you’ve got options.
Taking a traditional route might look like putting parent(s) or matriarchs/patriarchs in the center of a photo. If your situation is unique or you’d prefer to mix it up, start with your tallest subject in the center and build the shot around them.
Remember: perfect smiles don’t make the perfect photo. Don't be afraid to have fun and experiment with angles, poses, and facial expressions!
Extra Insta-Worthy Tips
IMPLEMENT A DRESS CODE
Hosting immediate and extended family? Share the importance of your portraits to them. Ask them to wear neutral clothing within a specific colour family.
USE PETS & PROPS
No matter how many photos don't turn out perfectly, having fun together is all that matters! Try incorporating your furry family members and special items into your portraits.
Here is a few examples of this from the studio:
With a little planning, you can easily turn your holiday season into a series of beautiful photographs!
I hope that this post has inspired you to take your iPhone photography to the next level. I know it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, but the payoff is worth it! With a little planning and creativity, you can create timeless holiday portraits that will be cherished for years to come.