It’s that time of year when families typically get their holiday photos taken for cards and keepsakes. But getting professional pictures taken in a photography studio is one of those holiday traditions that may not be happening this year. So if you’re going to try to capture those special moments yourself, professional photographers suggest these tips for taking expert-level photos at home.
- Go with a simple, uncluttered backdrop- Photographer Debi Cramer says, “Simplicity is key when it comes to backdrops. That means limiting what’s behind you, keeping the shot close to the subjects and hanging a sheet up as a makeshift backdrop if necessary. She also suggests heading outside and posing in front of wooden siding or evergreen trees.
- Use a tripod- Keep your shot level and improve the quality of your pictures by using a tripod.
- Avoid taking photos in bright sunlight- Good lighting is essential for good photos, so watch out for these basic pitfalls. Don’t shoot into the sun because it washes out photos. Campfire pics are also not advised as the flames and glow effect lighting. Move candles and bright lamps out of frame to avoid bright spots or shadows.
- Keep poses natural- Cramer says hugging, holding hands and engaging with one another usually appears natural, as do semi-posed shots of people decorating a tree, carrying presents, or walking outside. Just steer clear of distracting movements, like waving.
- Wearing matching colors or patterns can tie the photo together- Coordinating colors and outfits help make pictures look festive and cohesive. Solid colors like white, red, green, gold and black are best, but the shine from metallics and sequins can be distracting.
- Leave a border for framing- If you’re planning to frame the photo, make sure there’s enough room at the top without cutting across their heads. A good rule of thumb is leaving two to three “heads” of space at the top.
- Keep props simple- Props like scarves, hats, mittens, wooden sleighs and ice skates can add a playful element, just don’t go overboard, like wearing costumes.
- Use the self-timer mode instead of your phone’s front-facing camera- Portrait photographer Oksana Pali says the camera on the back of your phone is “far superior and will give you much better quality photos” than the front-facing one.