How to take Instagram-worthy family holiday photos like a pro

Read this before you raise your camera.

family photos
@crystalmariesing via Twenty20.com

Taking an awesome family holiday photo—especially on your phone—is not as easy as most of us would think. In theory, pointing and shooting sounds nice, but how do you keep your little one smiling, and full of life after the 15th picture? And, perhaps more importantly, what do you do when squeaky toys are no longer fun points of interest in candid shots of your kids?

We caught up with Deb DeFanti, marketing director at Paper Culture and Jennifer Tsay, co-founder of Shoott to offer tips for capturing the perfect family holiday picture that's worthy of an Instagram post and beyond.

Here's what you need to know to capturing the perfect family photo without a professional photographer:


1. Use selfie sticks

The verdict is in: selfies are here to stay. "While many people use selfie sticks on their vacations, there's no reason not to use them for your holiday photos," says DeFanti. "You can do a series of poses that include traditional, serious and silly." The point is to be creative with it—like wearing dress shirts with pajama bottoms, a fashion statement everyone can relate to this year.

2. Have fun

One of the most important things to remember is that a family photo session is a time to have fun and relax! Movement helps minimize stiffness or awkwardness, so rather than trying to get everyone to hold perfectly still for a picture, do as much movement as possible. Walk towards or away from the camera, run, twirl, jump, or play with clothing for cool action shots.

"Playing with kids and pets by chasing them, swinging them and lifting them up in the air are all great options," says Tsay. "Their energy and joy inspire authentic moments for your photographs."

3. Take it outside

Never has there been a better time to take photos outside than this year with social distancing being at the center of everything. "The good news is outside has some wonderful opportunities, from capturing the perfect sunset as a background to fall foliage which adds vibrant colors to your photos," says DeFanti.

You can also grab traditional posed shots with everyone standing or sitting, but level up your photo by mixing standing members with others who are sitting or kneeling. "Work with elements like large rocks, benches, trees and grass to add layers," says Tsay.

4. Travel your home

Since travel was eliminated for most people this year, create some light-hearted photos where you are in different rooms of your house. "Try to stay with well-lit rooms with subtle backgrounds so the photos aren't too busy andyour family is front and center," says DeFanti.

5. Work your angles

For a more artistic approach, set up your camera from the side, from behind or above you. "A family favorite is having kids, fur babies and parents lying on the grass and having the picture taken from above," says Tsay.

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