Our Xmas Photo from 2015

Today I want to teach you what I’ve learned over the years about how to DIY your own family Christmas photos! So let’s begin with the basics: tools.

Camera Options:

Option #1– buy or borrow a dslr camera like these below..

Most of the following have wifi connection options, which will be a MUST if I ever get a new camera. If you’re buying, I recommend wifi.

IF you get a new camera or if you already have a dslr, check the guidebook to see how to change the settings to a RAW file. This file type is HUGE and will take the best pictures possible.

Option #2– Just use your iPhone camera, but you’ll also need a tripod to keep the camera steady

Even if you opt out of using the timer and have someone snap the photos for you, a tripod is always a good idea for portraits.

You’ll need a tripod for a dslr too so here are some inexpensive options that’ll do the trick!

Tripod #1

Tripod #2

After you have your tools, you’ll want to also consider clothing & aesthetics.

What colors do you want to include in the picture? I recommend choosing 3 as a guide.

This year we wore grey, navy blue, and black for our color scheme. I suggest doing a Pinterest search and making a board to see what color schemes catch your eye!

Screen Shot 2016-11-11 at 7.22.45 PM.png

Then I added the word Christmas to the search and I found…


I like how there was always a little red in the “Christmas” photo outfits, but you could do pretty much any color scheme you want! I could even see pink or glitter being added to outfits! The sky’s the limit. The Pinterest search is just for inspiration.

My favorite color scheme ideas: Red, tan, and navy blue. | Red & white. | Grey, tan, and white. | Brown, grey, and white. | Green, red, and black.

Next, do another search for family/couple poses.


Although I have a blog and pose for pictures all the time, it’s always a little different with other people involved. Search Pinterest and make another board with poses you like. I searched a bunch of combinations of things like, “family of 3 poses for pictures” and “Christmas pictures for family of 3.”

Once you have your camera/tripod, know what you want everyone to wear, and know what poses to do you’re ready to set the date to take the photos…

… now that was all the easy part. 😉

Tips for Taking Professional Looking Photos:

#1- Don’t take them in direct, harsh sunlight. Wait for Golden Hour, which is right before the sun sets….or…

You do want a lot of light, but not sunlight pounding down on you. If it’s bright outside, find some shade that still lets in a lot of light. This picture was taken at golden hour, but a picture doesn’t have to be bathed in golden light to look good.


taken from pinterest


see how nice this light is? (from STYLEMEPRETTY)

#2-…find shade …or take them on an overcast day.

You just don’t need all that direct sunlight washing ya’ll out or making you look bald! Seriously, it happens!


from kennedy grace photography

#3- But if there’s sunlight and you find shade, make sure everyone’s head is in the shade.

This is fine if only one person is supposed to be the focus of the portrait (like the woman below), but not fine for a family Christmas photo.

I just took my sis- and bro-in-law’s Christmas pictures in the woods during the afternoon and it was really hard to get both of their heads in shade or both in sunlight because the tree branches casted lots of random shadows. But it’s worth it once you capture that perfectly shaded/sunny photo!


pic from: photographyconcentrate.com

#4- Do some test photos to make sure the sun’s not too far behind the camera or else everything will be super dark! DONT MAKE YOUR PHOTO TOO DARK LIKE THE PORTRAIT BELOW.

See how her face is dark and the reflection in the mirror is light? For family portraits you want the camera where that mirror is.


source: inagblog.com

This type of photo can be cool and artsy, but family photos ain’t the time for that!

#5- Have all family members stand/sit/lay so their bodies & heads are pretty evenly spaced, unless you are parents grouping your kids and their spouses as couples and want each couple to be slightly closer together.

Sorry to the Mclellan style photography blog, but I would recommend getting the family members to all point their faces more toward the camera, even out their body positions, and have their heads more evenly spaced apart.


The photo above is cute and they look really happy, but it wouldn’t normally make the cut for a professional photoshoot.


source: designgrapher.com

The family pictured directly above this has a nice pose with their heads evenly spaced and their bodies look relaxed and natural, but not too slouchy like they’re sitting in their living room.

#6- Try to get everyone to use good posture.

Sometimes heads leaned together can be cute like this…


… but other times it can look plain bad.

I will get in trouble 😛 if I include an example, but Beckett likes to lean his head down toward mine when we take pictures…so his head touches my head. He’s done this since I met him and one time I asked him about it and he basically said it was to show he loves me, but it looks silly for photos that you want to look professional so stop those head tilters in your family if you notice any! lol

#7- Recognize that you’ll have to take a bunch of photos to get it right so be patient with the people most precious to you!

When done, edit your pictures a little using:

Photoshop or…


I made a super quick and not detailed video below while baby Wolfgang squirmed on my lap, but it may help sooo…. here you go:

I got cut off in the video, but to save your image, go to the “File” dropdown menu in Pixlr and hit “save” and save it as a .jpg to your desktop!

When done, figure out your Christmas card options and send it to be printed!

That’s all I have for you!



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