Tips for Avoiding Awkward Holiday Family Photos

Friday, 7 December 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Since we can't all have a professional photographer on hand to capture picture-perfect holiday memories, we've got the next best thing! Tips and inspiration from guest blogger Janis Nicolay, professional photographer, baker, world traveller, and interior design connoisseur. Get snapping! - A&K

Ah, the holidays. I love this time of year, but I also know what lies ahead. My mom, bless her, will be expecting some serious family photo time. I’m one of 7, and toss in spouses, nieces and nephews it can be just the slightest bit painful. Sorry mom!

When I was starting out as a photographer, I shot many a wedding. The number one thing my brides and grooms asked for was “candid” pictures. I couldn’t have agreed more. There’s nothing wrong with posed group photos, but in my opinion they can be a little too stiff.

So to help avoid those awkward family holiday photos that can haunt us for years to come, I thought I’d share some ideas for capturing the genuine, happy little moments that happen over the holidays. A great addition to the more “formal”, and perhaps embarrassing, family photo album. And suffice it to say, I love shooting kids, just as they are, because their personalities always shine through effortlessly. 

Think about capturing your child discovering a little surprise and grouping a few of the images together. Makes a sweet little series.


I love shooting all the details too. A close-up of a book, cupcakes, and tea cups can really capture the moment and tell a cute story.


Take it outside! Big sister and little sister walking down to Granny’s house, Christmas morning, in matching red.


Close-ups of little hands, eating giant cookies. How could you not take a picture of that?  


A first Christmas is a good time to capture the joy they have in just the wrapping paper alone. The sheer glee over wrapping paper is short-lived, so enjoy!


Finding the gift stash and capturing the temptation to open. So adorable.


A relaxed family photo in black and white is timeless.


Sneaking snacks before the party starts. I love slightly “blurry” action shots. Focus on the a stationary object and shoot the whirling dirvish around it.


Story time is the perfect time to capture genuine laughter. You can almost hear the squeals just by looking at this image!

Since it’s a digital world these days, many of us allow our photos to languish on our hard drive.  I was one of them. I’ve started making photo albums via Blurb, an online bookmaking wonder, or iPhoto. How do you keep your memories?

Happy Holidays!

For more of Janis’s insights and work on photography, diy, baking and design, check out pineconecamp.blogspot.ca

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