Thanksgiving day is this Thursday and I think it’s the perfect time to try and take a family photo. Everyone will be dressed up nice, the fall foliage would be an amazing backdrop and you will have family around to help snap a photo or two.
I was lucky enough to have my friend, Liz from Elizabeth Kristin Photography take our family photos and the blogger in me of course decided I needed her advice for a blog post to help others take the best photos.
1. When is the ideal time to take family photos for Christmas? IE the families favorite season, or during summer vacation or the fall due to the pretty leaves?
LIZ: I say the idea time is whenever you are ready! I have clients take their holiday pictures in the summer on the beach, and then some who wait until the fall!
CAMILA: Personally I love Christmas cards to have photos in a fall/winter setting, but I do enjoy a good winter beach shot. The beach looks so beautiful in the winter and it’s empty so it’s perfect for photos!
LIZ: The best time of day to take pictures is generally 1-2 hours before sunset and after sunrise (if you want to wake up that early!) This is referred to as the “golden hour” in the photography world. The sun is lower in the sky, and is just gorgeous!! Mid day is not ideal. The sun being so high up in the sky causes harsher shadows across the face, and also causes squinting due to the brightness.
3. Any tricks for keeping your kids happy and smiling during the photo shoot? Ideally how long of a time frame should you book to get the perfect shot?
LIZ: I try to make silly faces, sing songs, and engage kids by asking them questions during the shoot. There are always some kids who are just not having it. I always advise parents to try to have their sessions after naptime, and not before! Generally speaking, my shoots last approximately an hour.
CAMILA: Personally I also thought it was really helpful when Liz was the one asking Hudson to smile and not me. When mom and dad were asking him to smile/laugh, etc we got lots of no! Hudson loved Liz’s silly nature and even when he was trying to fight smiling he would eventually get a case of the giggles.
4. What do you prefer candid’s or staged/portrait style?
LIZ: I prefer a combination of both. I’m definitely more drawn to candids and find the perfection in the imperfect. I definitely love “real life” and in the moment images- but also love shots of every one looking and smiling.
CAMILA: I love both as well, but my favorites tend to be candids. I will admit though that at times I have needed to stage a candid or two to get the shot I want.
LIZ: I’m pretty simplistic in my style. Not too many props- just the occasional blanket, crate, or chair here and there. I prefer for the focus to be on the people in the picture, not the props.
CAMILA: If I had an unlimited budget I would love props! From vintage cars to bales of hay I would want it all. That being said I don’t have an unlimited budget and I think the best theme for a family shoot is just happy smiley people!
6. Favorite camera and lens?
LIZ: I shot with a Nikon d90 for many, many years- but once rented the Canon 5d mark iii, and I still long to shoot with it. Hmmmmm- its a tie for my favorite lens- between the 24-70 and the 70-200.
7. Any tips for outfits? How many patterns are too many. Do any patterns/colors read really bad in photos?
LIZ: PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE DO NOT have everyone wear the same thing- i.e- white tops and jeans. Unless you want to look like you’re taking a corporate picture, please stay away from matchy-matchy. Complimentary colors are best. For example, I recently had a family photoshoot with my own family. We wore combinations of light grey, light pink, and cream.
CAMILA: I like for everyone to coordinate, but not match. For our own personal shoot I had a common theme of navy and cream and then Hudson’s plaid shirt had the addition of a pale pink, mint and hunter green. I then picked up the mint in my shirt and my necklace had all of the colors from Hudson’s shirt. It all worked perfectly, but everyone still looked different. To be completely honest I tend to dress us all like this a lot. Since I pick out the clothes for both Hudson and Asher we tend to coordinate on a weekly basis and on the weekends Jon always takes note of what we are all wearing and makes sure he doesn’t clash us. We don’t always do this, but it’s nice when it happens and we can snap a photo or two.
8. Since not everyone can afford a photographer or know how to use editing programs like photoshop what is your favorite instagram filter or pic monkey filter that people can use?
LIZ: Hrmmmm- I really love the VSCO cam app for the iphone. You can play with exposure, contrast, and they also have pre-set filters that are pretty cool.
CAMILA: I love instagram. You can follow me here. I tend to favor Valencia as my filter of choice.
9. What is your favorite online printing source for holiday cards?
LIZ: Totally digging what Minted is offering this season. I’m doing my personal holiday cards through them.
CAMILA: I love Minted as well and really enjoy that you can upload your photo and see it on all of the card options at once! I also like tinyprints, Paperless Post now does printed cards, and Pinhole Press.
10. Should you come to your photographer with a list of must take shots. You know the million candid looking shots you pinned on pinterest and now want to recreate for yourself?
LIZ: I don’t think its a bad thing to have a list in your head of what you might want. Its always good to make sure that the photographer you hire meshes with your own personal style. So, if you do pin things on pinterest, try to figure out if they fit in a specific theme (candid/posed/etc), and find a photographer that compliments that style. Let your photographer take control after that!
CAMILA: Love Liz’s tip here. Pinterest is wonderful, but I think it also makes things harder. You see these beautiful shots and you want to recreate them exactly and sometimes that’s not possible. It’s a wonderful tool though that can help you find photographers with a style you like and explain to the photography why you booked and what you liked so that they can help you achieve a similar look/vibe to your photos.