Two sisters smiling outside on a snowy day

As a photographer, I can understand the importance of taking a great holiday photo. You want to wish everyone you know a happy holiday while looking great too.

However, taking the picture can feel like it comes with its trials and tribulations. Trying to get everyone on location, at the same time, looking coordinated and making sure everyone’s eyes are open. Coming from a large family myself and taking photos of other families, I’ve been able to pick up some tips and tricks to having a successful photograph that doesn’t seem too complicated. 

Scheduling and Coordinating

Planning will make your job much easier. Look at your calendar and find a date that works with the family and schedule a week or more ahead. Be sure to plan around the kid’s nap times and for bright eyes plan for a morning shoot. 

When it comes to coordinating outfits it’s a good idea to match without matching too much. Pick a color scheme of two complimentary colors like navy and hints of reds or neutral colors like beige and white. For more Christmas vibe, plaids and solids are a good way to go. Try not to pick outfits that are too busy or have graphics on the front.

This choice of colors allows everyone to be able to find something in their closet without having to run to the store. If worse comes to worst, then make your photo black and white. No one will know the difference. 

A family of five holding hands in front of a graffited wallAsk for Assistance

There are tons of ways to take family photos. You can hire a photographer to make your life easier. They would know unique locations and get you a great variety of photos to choose from. Another option is to find a friend that has a good eye for photography and would be willing to snap a few pics.

Lastly, you could use a tripod and camera or iPhone to set up something simple. If using an iPhone or home camera, then be sure to take the photos on just one device and share it amongst your family. It makes it easier and faster.

To ensure everyone’s eyes are open, count down. If someone else is taking your photo, then tell them to count down from five, and (hopefully) everyone will be wide-eyed. If you’re timing your photo, then designate someone in the group to count down, that way everyone doesn’t look like they are talking.

Location and Lighting are Everything

Your location and lighting can make or break your photo. Unless your photographer has chosen a location, it can feel hard to find just the right spot. For best lighting results, take a photo outside, maybe near a big bunch of trees as a background. It could be your front porch or even downtown for a more urban feeling.

If outside is not an option, then a photo in front of a tree or on your family couch can be cozy. Just be sure you are near some windows or have great home lighting so that no one has strange skin de-coloration in the final photos.

Posing and Incentives

Posing can be awkward, so the best way to prepare is to make sure nothing is unnatural. If it feels more comfortable to be laughing and more candid, then go for it. If you want to be more traditional, then put everyone in a row from tallest to shortest, descending with the parents in the middle. If you’re stressed, then hit up Pinterest and brainstorm some positions that feel right to you.

Also, if you have kids under the age of five, it might be a good idea to bring along some treats, especially if it’s cold outside. Bringing a smile to your little one for even a second is all you will need for a quick snap. 

Get a Variety and Individuals

Lastly, make sure to get different angles because you never know what kind of card you will design. It might have text on the top or bottom so you wanna make sure there is room. As an example, be sure to adjust the orientation of your photos. Take some landscape, portrait and close-up photos. If you don’t want to take too many, then just take a wider shot.

Two little boys being pulled on a snow sleigh as one looks back at the camera

There is also the choice of doing a card with a collage to show off all the kids if you can snap some pictures of the kids individually. Even if you don’t use them, they’re just great to have if you want to hang them in the house. Plus, you can never have enough photos of the family. 

Don’t forget to have fun and remember to smile. You got this!

Do you take holiday family photos? What techniques do you have? 

Images via Alexa Tonn Design & Photography


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