Snap Family Holiday Photos Like a Pro


Published:

The holidays are here and taking the annual family greeting card photo tops your to-do list. Looking forward to it? Or dreading it? Here are a few simple guidelines - and a bit of encouragement - to help you and your family enjoy this season's photo shoot.

Select your clothes

The key to a good holiday picture is to take a photo that represents your family. "Avoid the 'aren't really' photo where the photo shows your kids wearing colors and clothes that they would never wear," says photographer Tamara Lackey of Tamara Lackey Studio in Durham. "Think about what colors they look good in and what style of clothing. People look good and natural when they feel good about what they are wearing." Lackey, a mother of three, created the Capturing Life Through (Better) Photography resources.

Select a color for one top and shades of the same color for other family members. A darker top allows the focus to be on the face. If your daughter has a green ruffled dress with a few extra colors, select a complementary color for the other child.

Lay the clothes out on a bed and "squint" at them. "Plan clothes as if you are dressing one person," says Bianca Palmer, a Raleigh-area photographer and owner of A Moment Like This photography studio.

Don't limit yourself to traditional red and green. Whether your holiday card is green and red or white and blue, you can incorporate another coordinating color. Consider green and shades of green if your location is going to be outside with lots of browns in the background.

Lock down location and lighting

Photography experts say one of the biggest mistakes parents make with holiday pictures is choosing a location with too much clutter.

"Make sure your location has a clean and uncluttered background," says Lackey, whose next book, Envisioning Family (New Riders Press: Voices That Matter), releases in December. Remove extra items that are in the way or appear to be growing out of someone's head. This may be as simple as changing the shot's angle.

Early morning and late afternoon, when lighting is soft, is the best time of day to take photos. Also, kids are often in better moods earlier in the day.

Check your attitude

Keep your children's ages and limits in mind. "Go with the flow. Be playful and engage your kids," says Palmer, mother of two.

Talk to your kids about the situation ahead of time. "Let everyone know what to expect so no one will be ready to vault after five minutes," suggests Al Gorham, photographer and teacher at Wake Tech Community College.

Also, make sure you're confident in what you are doing. How many times have you snapped a shot and, after you look at it, realize it didn't quite capture the moment the way you wanted?

"Read your camera's manual," Lackey advises. Your point-and-shoot camera probably has more helpful features than you know about. A few extra minutes reading the manual may help you take a better picture. You will also be more relaxed about getting the right shot.

Trigger your timer

Some photographers don't recommend using timers because they often result in fake smiles and stiff poses. Instead, consider a remote trigger. There are even remote iPhone camera-trigger apps.

For example, the Transcriptics Remote DSLR Camera Control app (99 cents) allows you to snap your fingers and control a Cannon EOS or Nikon DSLR camera remotely from your iPhone or iPod Touch. Find information about costs and reviews of various trigger apps at iTunes.

And don't forget the juice. A few days before your photo shoot, charge the batteries and make sure your memory card has ample space.

Relax and engage the whole family

You may not want to be in the holiday picture, but remember: These pictures are going to serve as keepsakes for your kids. "When they grow up, how much are they going to value a picture with the entire family?" Palmer asks.

Let your kids interact with each other. Encourage them to get close to one another - almost uncomfortably close - and just snap the picture. When you see the shot you want, take it and be prepared to take another photo immediately. After the first click, kids seem to relax and giggle their anxieties away. That's when you should be ready to click again.

Also consider asking someone else to photograph you and your kids, possibly trading photographer duties with another parent. Kids are used to mom and dad, so a new person may bring more energy to the situation. They might use funny expressions or sounds to get your children's attention.

Don't forget the family pet

Most pet-owners won't feel the photo is complete if it doesn't include their beloved dog or cat. Take photos first without your pet, then bring out the canine or feline members of the family. Lackey recommends not using treats because some pets become too focused on the treat and won't listen to your commands. You may just take a perfect photo while your kids are playing with the family pet.

Play with different angles and lighting while you are photographing with your kids. Make this holiday family photo shoot an experience to remember.  n

Jan Udlock is a freelance writer and mom of five who rarely takes holiday pictures. This holiday, however, is going to different. She blogs at Imp3rfect Mom, http://janudlock.com/blog.

Do's and don'ts for photo sessions

Do:

*     Plan your photo shoot two weeks in advance so you have extra time in case you need it.

*     Read your camera's manual and experiment with the camera before you take your holiday photos.

*     Tell your kids what to expect.

*     Use freshly charged or new batteries.

*     Snap a picture and be ready to snap again.

*     Avoid using a flash if possible.

*     Have fun, engage your kids and enjoy the moment!

Don't:

*     Have the attitude that there is a perfect family photo.

*     Wear sleeveless or low-cut tops; eyes are attracted to skin.

*     Plan your photo shoot mid-day since strong sunlight casts shadows.

*     Wear turtlenecks, since they give the appearance of "no neck."

*     Try to take photos of hungry or tired children or adults.

*     Say cheese. Just smile!

Give a memorable gift

A photo book makes a memorable holiday gift, and thanks to Internet technology, you can easily make photo books online from your personal photos. Photo book services offer simple templates on which you can drop various photos and captions. You can also record simple thoughts about the event and add titles. You don't have to be particularly artistic because online book services like Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly and Snapfish have done most of the work for you. These gifts are perfect for grandparents or faraway relatives, and can often be sent directly to their homes.

An actual print of your family is a treasure. In the digital age, photos are often on phones or computers, so putting a print in a frame is still a thoughtful gift.

If you cannot do one more thing this season, consider downloading your family photos online at a membership store such as Costco or Sam's, or discount retail store such as Target or Walmart near your relative's home. Then they can pick up the prints. It's less work for you and a convenient gift for them.

Photography gift resources

*     Adoramapix: www.adoramapix.com/app/home

*     Kodak Gallery: www.kodakgallery.com

*     My Publisher: www.mypublisher.com

*     Shutterfly: www.shutterfly.com/photo-books

*     Snapfish: www.snapfish.com/snapfish/photo-books

*     SmileBooks: www.smilebooks.com

*     Target Photo Center: www.target.com (search for Target Photo Centers)

 

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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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More information

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Cost: $15-$35

Where:
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Telephone: 919-673-5784
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Contact Name: Kelly
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More information

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View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: 20

Where:
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Telephone: 704-391-3900
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
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View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
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More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
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Cost: $11

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Where:
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More information

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Cost: $15-$35

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Telephone: 919-673-5784
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Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
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500 S Salisbury St
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View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Chip, chip, hooray! The first Zambrero in the Southeast is opening on January 24 with zingy, zesty activities! Bodacious Burritos and Bowls: $5 burritos and bowls all day Delicious Drawing: A...

Cost: Free

Where:
1 Glenwood Ave
#105
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: (919) 863-2561
Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Take a hike after dark and enjoy the sights and sounds of a quiet night along the American Tobacco Trail. We will walk to the Beaver Creek bridge and back (about one mile total). Free for ages 4...

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in February!   This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »

More information

Join the Museum and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to help you see the big picture — of the Universe! From comet crafts to solar observing, lectures to rocket launches, space enthusiasts of all ages...

Cost: Free

Where:
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for the Kids Exchange Spring/Summer Consignment Sale in July! This FREE ADMISSION event is the largest kids consignment sale in the nation and is held at the NC State Fairgrounds at...

Cost: 0 – $10

Where:
Jim Graham Building
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

RALEIGH (Jan. 16, 2020) – The North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools will host its first school fair during National School Choice Week on Saturday, Jan. 25. The fair will take...

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: NC Association of Public Charter Schools
Telephone: 336-669-9996
Contact Name: Rhonda Dillingham
Website »

More information

Family Wildlife Series: Tricky Tracks Saturday, January 25 10-11 a.m. Come dressed for the weather so you can roam the park learning the fine art of “tracking”.   Make a cast of an animal...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Join the statewide kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society since 2015, the 19th...

Cost: 0

Where:
North Carolina Museum of History
5 East Edenton Street
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Just in time to keep up with those home improvement resolutions for 2020, the Downtown Raleigh Home Show returns to downtown’s Raleigh Convention Center January 24-26, 2020  with a jam-packed...

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults and free for children under 12. Advance $9 tickets

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Marketplace Events
Telephone: 904-608-3823
Contact Name: Liz Morgan

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Rumpelstiltskin-A Tale of Gold Book by Ellie FaggionMusic and Lyrics written by Brian Shrager and Ellie FaggionProduced by special arrangement with the author.Directed by Beth Wilson...

Cost: varies

Where:
Spiritual Twist Productions
1250 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritual Twist Productions
Telephone: 919-977-1976
Contact Name: Kathy MacDonald
Website »

More information

Winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. Discover how animals deal with cold weather and which ones hibernate...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is required for all family members,& childre

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Triangle Restaurant Week (January 20-26, 2020) is a week-long celebration of culinary excellence designed to incorporate the premier Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding area restaurants....

Cost: $15-$35

Where:
Participating Restaurants
, NC


Sponsor: Triangle Blvd
Telephone: 919-673-5784
Website »

More information

Join us in Arendelle for Frozen-inspired STEAM activities for the whole family! Included in the ticket cost is dinner and dessert for the whole family, make your own sock Olaf and Frozen bouncy...

Cost: $35 per family

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Website »

More information

AML Wrestling presents our 5th Anniversary Celebration! WHEN: Saturday, January 25th, 2020WHERE: Winston-Salem Fairgrounds in theHome & Garden Building 408 27th Street NW/Gate #9 Winston-Salem, NC...

Cost: $5

Where:
Winston-Salem Fairgrounds
408 27th Street NW/Gate #9
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Sponsor: AML Wrestling
Telephone: 336-831-0646
Contact Name: Tracy Myers
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

David Burney, lead singer for the acclaimed Johnny Cash tribute band Johnny Folsom 4, brings his one-man show to The ArtsCenter for three shows, January 24-26, 2020.  In “Hello, I’m...

Cost: $15 to $20

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
300-G East Main Street.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown
Website »

More information

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Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.