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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Calendar

November 2019

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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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More information

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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: Free

Where:
Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex
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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
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View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
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More information

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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
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We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
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Cost: FREE. Registration is required.

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
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Cost: $5-$12

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Cost: Adults: $15 Seniors: $10 Students and children: $5 Family 4-pack

Where:
William Peace University, Kenan Auditorium
15 E Peace St
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Sponsor: William Peace University
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We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: Park West Village
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More information

Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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View map »

More information

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Cost: $5-$12

Where:
Emerson Waldorf School
6211 New Jericho Road
Brown Wing
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Website »

More information

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View map »


Website »

More information

It’s the summer before the 1904 World’s Fair and the three Smith sisters are filled with anticipation. But the year brings turmoil as family life interferes with their newfound chances...

Cost: Adults: $15 Seniors: $10 Students and children: $5 Family 4-pack

Where:
William Peace University, Kenan Auditorium
15 E Peace St
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: William Peace University
Contact Name: Charles Machalicky
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our seventh annual food drive will be held during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd
Apex, NC  27529
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

We will be conducting a food drive during the month of November. All donations benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina (www.foodbankcenc.org). We encourage you to get involved...

Cost: FREE. Registration is not required.

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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More information

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Website »

More information

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Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. Show times are at noon and 5 p.m. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Come share the excitement as Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in The District. Kids of all ages will enjoy our Magical Winter Lights Paintscaping, featuring colorful holiday lights...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Park West Village
Contact Name: Conner
Website »

More information

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Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

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View map »


Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

More information

Transformative stories through the mists of time adapted from "1001 Arabian Nights" and performed by Emerson's 10th grade class.  Recommended for audiences age 10 and up. For...

Cost: $5-$12

Where:
Emerson Waldorf School
6211 New Jericho Road
Brown Wing
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Website »

More information

It’s the summer before the 1904 World’s Fair and the three Smith sisters are filled with anticipation. But the year brings turmoil as family life interferes with their newfound chances...

Cost: Adults: $15 Seniors: $10 Students and children: $5 Family 4-pack

Where:
William Peace University, Kenan Auditorium
15 E Peace St
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: William Peace University
Contact Name: Charles Machalicky
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Annual Guides

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.