The following is a guest post from NYC photographer Lori Berkowitz.
This year I’ve added mother to my title, and I’m now working on creating my first family holiday card! I’ve compiled my best tips from 20 years of taking pictures professionally and want to share them with you. Use one or combine any of them to take your images to the next level!
While you don’t need to wear identical matching outfits, do try to find a classic look for everyone. Solid tops with jeans or dark pants, or a simple dress look best.
If your children are of the age that they’ll be motivated by an incentive, by all means use that! It’s helpful to decide ahead of time what you’re willing to give, and use that bribe to the advantage of all. I already know I’ll be giving candy, ice cream and extra screen time when I’m ready for bribery!
3. Hire a Photographer or Recruit a Friend
I recommend hiring a professional photographer at least once a year so you can get in on the action. Although I’m a pro photographer, I hire a colleague multiple times a year so I’m not missing from all our family photos. If it’s not in your budget this year, I encourage you to recruit a friend or neighbor to take a few of your holiday photos. It’s really wonderful for friends and family from afar to see you as well!
4. Natural Light
Turning off your flash and finding the best light will make the biggest difference in the quality of your images. Take a few days before your shoot to observe the light outside or inside your home.
If you’re inside, find the best natural light in your home; this will be dependent on the time of day. Find your largest window, watch for the right time of day and plan your shoot. It’s helpful to shut the other lights in the room (they will turn your images different colors than the natural sunlight).
If you’re going outside, find some shade to avoid harsh shadows, or pick an overcast day- the light will be even and diffused. This is actually much easier than shooting on a sunny day!
5. Allow for Play
Some of the best images show authentic emotion, so allow for play and keep shooting. You don’t always need everyone looking right at the camera!
6. Engage Your Subjects
Practice engaging and shooting at the same time. Bring the camera up and down from your face while you are talking with your subject. This takes a little practice but it gets easier with time. Have the patience to wait for the real emotion instead of the “say cheese” reaction of a camera in their face.
7. Get Close To each Other
When taking a portrait of more than one person get everyone extra close together. Its more interesting when people are overlapped and also highlights your love and affection for each other.
8. Clean Up
Clear EVERYTHING out of the background. Not possible? Hang a white flat sheet on the wall opposite your best natural light. Viola- instant photo studio!
9. Point of View
Play with getting low or shooting from above to create a more interesting frame.
10. Get Everyone Around The same Height
This way you’ll be able to get a closer more intimate shot. Try having the adults kneel or pick up the smallest people!
Have fun and good luck making this your best holiday photo to date!
Lori Berkowitz is a NYC based portrait photographer, she’s also a new mom. She’s passionate about making women feel beautiful. Visit her online at LoriBerkowitzPhoto.com. (Note: Lori’s photos are beautiful and tasteful, but not all are safe for work.)