The Journal

5 Tips for DIY Family Photos

December 4, 2019

Hey friends! This year because of our schedule and the fact that we live in the boonies of NY, we decided to do our own family photos at home. As a mom of three, I am keenly aware of how important it is to capture images of our family as my kids grow older so I thought I’d share a few helpful tips in case you wanted to try your own DIY family photo session!

Tip #1 Hire a Photographer!

I know I know…that’s not a DIY tip! But hear me out! If you can, hire a photographer. There’s just no two ways about it. There’s nothing better than a real person taking your family photos. They see those in-between and candid moments and can capture those real emotions better than any tripod can.

In our case, it just wouldn’t work out logistically (the nearest photographer that I would have loved to use was almost 2hrs away. We live pretty out there!) So we got ready at home and set up the ‘ol tripod in the backyard. It actually worked out better for us because we did our family session over two days and were able to roll with my kids emotions. (Adeline just did not want her photo taken!) While I still would have preferred to hire a photographer, I still think we managed to capture some good shots. So if you are in a similar situation as us or have a tighter budget, here are some tips you can use to do your own family photo session!

Tip #2 Get a tripod and remote

Getting a good tripod (I use this Manfrotto tripod) and remote that way you don’t have to run to get in your spot! You can just use the remote and then drop it or hide it behind you so it isn’t in the photo. Most remotes have either a ten or two-second timer so you can set it to whichever option is better. We needed the full 10 seconds…haha!

Tip #3 Light and Location

If shooting outdoors try to choose a location that is familiar (we did our backyard!) so you already know the best spots with the best light. It’s also a plus so you don’t feel stressed trying to get ready and get everyone in the car to go to a location you aren’t too familiar with. The best times to shoot are early in the morning (about 30min to an hour after sunrise) or waiting until Golden Hour which is an hour or so before sunset. Once you’ve found your spot, take a few test shots to make sure you like the background and the lighting. If you’re in an area with lots of trees, you might get some dappling from the light coming through the leaves so my rule of thumb is to always face your shadow or find a completely shaded spot. The light will be even and it will be much easier to brighten up in post editing than dappled light/harsh shadows/overexposed spots on faces.

If you are shooting indoors, choose a space that gets lots of natural window light and remove unwanted objects or decor to make the space as neutral as possible. You don’t need a fancy backdrop for beautiful images, just great light!

Tip #4 Take the full family shot first

I always do the most challenging photos first which are the tripod shots of the whole family smiling at the camera. In my opinion these are the least fun/hardest when you  have little ones so it’s good to get those done first. Once we get that out of the way, I take the camera off the tripod to take shots of my kids (all together, individual, candid). After those, I usually do shots of my husband interacting with the kids and then we switch.

Tip #5 Have fun and embrace the imperfect!

If you have kids, hype it up and tell them how fun this is going to be and I guarantee they’ll believe you and you’ll get them to cooperate better. Positivity breeds positivity! The beauty of DIY photos is getting to play and have fun so you can get the real smile, laughter and joy you want in your images. And just know you WILL inevitably get some bad-but-oh-so-good photos for posterity or blackmailing your kids when they’re teenagers too. 😉 Our imperfect photos were THE BEST (I’ve shared a few below…you’re welcome) and we had a lot of fun!

I hope these tips help the next time you decide to do your own family photos! Enjoy some of our DIY family photos (and some outtakes ;)) and go take your own!

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