Holiday Family Photos

Rachel Johanna

Product Photographer & Marketing Maven

This time of year is full of family gatherings (even though they might be a little smaller this year).

Getting good photos of your family can be tricky sometimes. Finding the right light, getting the best poses, capturing the best candids – all these things have their own challenges. I’ve got lots of tips to help you get the best images over the holidays.  

Find the light:

I feel like this is always my first tip for you. I always put it first because it is the most important! The light can make or break your images. 

If you are shooting outside the best light is in the morning and the evening. These times of day have softer light that is more flattering for portraits. If you have to shoot mid-day, find the shade so you can avoid the harsh shadows. Or, if the day is overcast, you are good anytime of day! 

When you shoot inside windows are your best source of light. Outdoor light filtering in through the windows is your best bet for well lit images. If you are setting up a posed image, have your family gather near the windows with the brightest light. The light will be most flattering if the window is opposite them but can work off to the side. Just try and avoid setting up in front of the windows as a back lit image will be harder to expose correctly and your family might end up as silhouettes. 

But shooting with window light won’t always be possible. Maybe you are shooting in a darker area of your home or after the sun has set. This is when it is important to know your camera settings well. I recommend shooting in raw so that your image is easier to edit if it’s a little underexposed.

If you were lucky enough to get an iPhone 12 Pro in your stocking we totally recommend trying the new feature ProRAW. Images look great and you won’t need to spend a lot of time developing them.

You should also know how to adjust your exposure settings on the fly. In our app, you will find the iso here and the shutter speed here when shooting in manual or raw. 

But if those modes intimidate you, we also have an exposure wheel in auto mode so you can make adjustments there too! In time you will gain the confidence to try manual mode!

Shooting Candids:

Shooting candids can be tricky. People tend to be awkward when they know the camera is turned on them. Candid photos help you avoid the “everyone sitting at the table with their glasses up” photos with the forced smiles.

Try and stay off their radar by shooting from the hip – sometimes literally. Knowing when to shoot and how to see the “moments” while real life unfolds can take some practice. Keep at it! Shoot from different perspectives, turn off your flash – it can give you away when it goes off, and try shooting in burst mode. You can turn that on here:

Burst mode helps you capture just the right facial expressions and avoid catching someone’s eyes closed in an otherwise perfect shot. 

Posed Family Photos: 

I don’t know about your family, but getting posed family photos is always a little stressful with my family. And stress is something to avoid during the holiday season! Use these tips to take the stress out and just get a great shot of your family. First, give people a heads up. Let them know you plan to take a family photo so they can look their best! You can definitely stress people out if you spring it on them. Second, shoot at the beginning of the gathering. If you get the shot first thing, then everyone can get to the food and fun. Plus you avoid anyone spilling on their outfit or having one too many drinks before you take the shot. Third, use these Camera+ 2 features to get the shot without too much hassle.

  1. Use a tripod – especially if you plan to hop in- and a timer. Camera+ 2’s timer is here. And we also have an app for your apple watch. That way you don’t have to make a run for it! 
  2. Use manual exposure. Remember, you can find those here. Having control of the exposure makes sure you get it right. It is always disappointing to think you got the shot only to find it’s too bright or too dark when you look at it in the lightbox. 
  3. There should only be one photographer. Don’t let everyone try and get an image with their phone. This can only add stress. There’s too much shuffling around and the possibility of everyone looking in different directions. Instead, shoot the image just on your phone and use Camera+ 2’s great sharing options to email, text, or airdrop it to everyone before the night is over!
  4. Try taking some candids in between shots. People might be laughing, kids might be goofing around. You might find that those images are the ones you really cherish!

Want to shoot some video too?

Did you know we have an app for that too? If you have Camera+ 2, you can find it here or at I like to shoot video of family gatherings in small snippets of fun that can be stitched together later for a fun montage of the event. The biggest tip I can give you for capturing great family videos is to keep your camera steady. Using a tripod or a gimbal is always a great option. REC has a camera stabilization that uses your device’s built-in hardware to help keep your videos smooth. Turn that on here.

I also recommend toggling Lock Exposure and WB on to make sure that your exposure and white balance don’t change once you hit record. 

Then all you have to do is make sure to get the best exposure! Use the same lighting tips from above for the best results. You can find your exposure settings here.

(And if Santa brought you a new iPhone you’ve gotta try HDR! The videos look absolutely stunning on iPhone screens)

Happy Holiday’s from the Camera+ family to yours! 

Find us here and on social for more holiday photo tips! 

Published by Rachel Johanna

Product Photographer & Marketing Maven