DIY Family Photos

DIY Family Photos

Find out how to capture brilliant family photos with a smartphone and some simple tricks.


The air is cool and crisp, the leaves are turning and the time for holiday card sending is right around the corner. Coincidentally, it’s World Smile Day this month! Is there a better reason to get outside and snap some family photos for your holiday cards?

Here’s the awesome news: You don’t have to spend a lot on a professional photographer. You have all the equipment you need in your hand: your phone! And with these tips, you’ll have all the know-how too.

Good Prep is the First Step
Scrambling for outfits right before your shoot will stress you out. Give yourself a few days to think about it and get everyone’s look ready to go. Wash all your ensembles with Tide Pods to clean, fight stains and brighten with no pouring or spills.

Tip: Think you don’t have time to whiten your smile before the shoot? Think again! Crest Whitestrips 1-Hour Express Teeth Whitening Kit will help remove years of stains in just 1 hour. And psst… you can click here for a coupon!

Location, Location, Location
Find the right location and you’ve already won half the battle. Plus, with the leaves changing, finding a beautiful outdoor backdrop may be as easy as stepping out into your own backyard!

Your location can be just about anywhere where the lighting isn’t too harsh (more about that later), just try to make sure it’s somewhere meaningful to your family. If not your own neighbourhood, try a favourite park or a grandparent’s house.

Tip: Try to look for solid backgrounds, like painted or brick walls. This way, the focus will be on you and your family – not a distracting backdrop. Also, make sure the colour of the background pairs well with your carefully selected outfits!

Wherever you choose to do your session, pick several interesting, visually pleasing spots to add variety to your photos.

Happy Kids = Great Shots
Plan your photo session for a day and time that works well for your family. Make sure everyone is well rested, fed, wearing something they feel comfortable in and generally happy (in other words, not right before nap time). Keep the mood light, relax and have fun!

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Let your kids be silly and natural so that you can capture their personality. You can even play one of your little one’s favourite songs to get everyone loosened up and having a good time.

If you’re photographing your dog too, give him a little exercise (so he’s panting and “smiley”) right before the shoot. And finally, treats for everyone in the family will help them follow directions just a little better.

Posing and Un-posing
Mix it up between posed and candid photos. Snap some pictures of your family laughing and playing together first to create a more relaxed atmosphere, then once everyone has gotten their wiggles out, move on to more formal, posed pictures. 

Make sure your angles are flattering so that everyone is happy with the results (this is a must for teens!). Try some with everyone sitting, some with everyone standing and maybe even some from above, lying in the grass and leaves.

Light Right
Shooting outdoors can be tricky. The sun can cast some unflattering shadows and make everyone squint. Try to time your photo session around the “golden hour,” just before sunset when the sun hovers on the horizon, casting a soft, reddish light that makes everyone glow. If the sun is particularly bright, find a shaded area to shoot in.

Smart Phone, Brilliant Photos
So you’ve got everyone ready, and now it’s just up to you and your camera. Luckily, most smartphones take fantastic photos if you know a few tricks. Try these tips for some frame-worthy shots.

Note: Even though you’re using a smartphone for your photos, you can still be in the shot! Ask a friend to come along and be your photographer. Then, you can trade places and shoot her family’s photos. If you don’t have time to recruit a friend, try using a “selfie stick” or a camera tripod to make sure everyone is in the frame – yourself included!

  • For clear, crisp images, use the front lens of your smartphone’s camera.
  • Move closer to your subject instead of using the zoom feature, which degrades the quality.
  • If a face appears fuzzy at first glance, try tapping the screen to re-focus the image.
  • Use the burst mode on your phone by holding down the shutter button to take multiple shots in quick succession, maximizing the potential of capturing at least one amazing shot.
  • Lastly, take some pictures with your phone in a vertical position and some in a horizontal position. This gives you more options when picking your holiday card design.

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