Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shutterfly Family Photo Days and Photo Taking Tips

The holidays are just around the corner and with that comes family photos. Let's face it sometimes it is just so difficult to get the perfect memorable shot of the whole family looking their best. In an effort to inspire and educate you on ideas on getting that perfect family photo early so you can place it into a fantastic card online, Shutterfly is having "Family Photo Days" throughout November. On their “Family Photo Days” website you can use the creative ideas on the website, share and discuss more ideas with others, and then take those ideas and making them your own. So get going and create that spectacular moment on camera then come back to Shutterfly because they have some great personalized Holiday Cards that you can put that photo into.

I have some great tips that I have found to be invaluable in taking the best family photos that I am going to share here with you now:

1. Plan ahead! Pick a day and time that isn't stressful for everyone. Make sure everyone can be available at the day and time picked and everything is set up and put together before the big day so no problems will arise. Children have their own times when they are at their best and happiest. Make sure to plug that into the equation too. Make sure clothing is set out the day before and haircuts are done a week before at least. Try to maintain your composure even if you are a little stressed because kids pick up on this easily and their reactions could derail the whole event. Arrive at the portrait shoot a little early with a clear, rested mind.

2. Lighting is very important. There are a lot of lighting techniques that professionals use. Shoot outdoor photos when the sun is low in the sky, either in the early morning or late afternoon so that the lighting isn't too bright or way too dark. If you are photographing in sunlight, try to position yourself so that the sun hits your subject from the side. You can also position your subject in front of the sun to give a great back-light effect, but don't let the sunlight flare in your lens because the contrast will be messed up. If shooting indoors use as much light as is available. The flash sometimes can make nasty shadows on the wall behind the subject. If this happens it is best to try to position the subject in from of a dark wall or getting them as far away from any walls as possible. No one person should stand out more than the others. You could also buy studio lighting for your own indoor setup or go to a studio that has one, but know that lighting is very important!!

3. If red eye or blemishes prevail, fix it with Photoshop or a paint program. Don't fret the small stuff. There are some awesome red eye removal and blemish editing techniques in a lot of photo software these days that quickly and painlessly get rid of unwanted red eye and blemishes.

4. Dress Code and feeling: Coordination, comfort, and simplicity is the name of the game. Too much print, pattern or color will take away from the faces in the photographs. Nice solid color shirts that match are the best and simplest way to go. Remember darker colors are slimming and generally more flattering. Comfortable clothing is better if the photo shoot is going to be a long one especially if there are young children involved. So go ahead and go casual! If; however, you do want to go fancier then try to get the pictures with the kids out of the way first so there isn't a lot of waiting in fancy uncomfortable dress. Know the feeling and theme you want to convey in the pictures ahead of time and make sure everyone participating knows and agrees.

5. Get creative with settings, props and backgrounds. There are some awesome scenic places that you could have as your background or setting, but sometimes getting everyone there is the hard part. Be creative and spontaneous. Sometimes the best photos could be set in your own backyard or home. A solid color sheet or large blanket could be used as a great backdrop. You could have your little one hug a favorite stuffed critter or ride a wooden pony or use a toy to get the child to look at you. Just think outside the box!

6. Take closeups and get close. Family is all about closeness :) So get everyone in the picture to squeeze together as close as comfortably possible. This makes the pictures seem more warm and inviting. Get closeups of individuals and couples too. It is all about capturing facial expression and the face is the greatest asset in your pictures! Sometimes blurring the background is a good thing because the main focus is on the subjects instead.

7. Make sure the subjects all have their eyes open, are smiling (unless you want serious, romantic, etc.), and look like they are having fun. Nobody likes a picture that someone: is squinting, looks like they are in a daze, looks like they are not having fun at all, or has their mouth wide open. We've all had pictures taken like this. Try to make the photos fun to dissolve boredom. Have the subjects jump in the air or tell them a funny joke to make them laugh. Don't be afraid to try something new to make it more fun. Make the subjects feel confident that they are having a positive experience. Don't tell them that it just isn't working, instead say, “Great, lets try a few more positions.”. Emanate positivity and it will be more enjoyable for all participating.

8. Take both formal and candid shots. Candid shots give more emotion, are more relaxed and usually can tell a story. Formal shots tend to be posed and manipulated more. Take both even if someone wants only one or the other.

I love the holidays! I love decorating, remembering the true meaning of Christmas, giving gifts like these neat Photo Gifts, sending out my yearly happenings newsletter, and personalizing cards with my family photos to send out to family and friends. This is truly one of my favorite seasons!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about Shutterfly's Holiday Cards I am getting 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this post.

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