Everyone loves when a family photo turns out just right, especially during the holidays when families gather together and holiday photos are abundant. Great photos capture personalities, feelings and emotions, and freeze memories in a time capsule. But often, the photos you snap (especially photos of little ones and large groups) don't make the cut, aren't "holiday card worthy" and last less than five seconds before being deleted. Since most families don't have a resident professional photographer, here are some useful tips to help any member of the family take wonderful pictures that will be shared and saved for generations to come: Don't be scared to be the paparazzi. Keep your camera handy at all times and snap lots of photos. When your camera is always handy and you take lots of pictures, you'll greatly improve your chances of getting the pictures you'll love. Lights, camera, action. If you're taking photos outdoors, do it either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The light tends to be richer at these times and you won't get squinted eyes and shadows from the overhead sun. If you're shooting indoors, see which time of day the room lights up the most and choose that time for the photo shoot. Make sure the group is happy, comfortable and fed. If you have little ones in your group, it is especially important to make sure they are rested and fed before attempting a photo shoot. Make a conscious effort to schedule family photos earlier in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid mid-day meltdowns. Give babies a comfortable place to lounge. Newborns can be placed in a comfortable (and photo-friendly) place like a couch or pillow. Cover the area with a white sheet for a neutral background. If you are shooting wiggly kids, try placing them in a wagon or basket to contain them in one spot and give them a new perspective. Be aware of the background. It's easy to focus on a great smile while forgetting about what might be in the background of a picture. Make sure backgrounds are simple and don't distract from the main attraction - the people. Set the sports or child mode. If you have a large group and/or children in your group, try using the sports or child mode on your camera instead of the auto setting. These modes are designed to capture clear shots of fast moving subjects and increase your odds of getting a photo where everyone is smiling and has their eyes open. When shooting little ones, get close and stay low. When taking photos of children, zoom in on their faces and make their faces fill your entire view finder. Also, it's important to get down on your knees and shoot pictures of kids from their eye level, so you see facial expressions instead of the tops of their heads. Enlist the help of a friend. Ask a friend to take photos of your family for you so you don't have to rely on the camera's timer. This will help to ensure the photos aren't too posed since your friend can engage you and your family, tell a few jokes and make funny faces to help you capture more natural photos. Great photos capture wonderful memories. A little preparation can ensure that you will be able to share amazing photos of those you love. So, don't be afraid to act like the paparazzi, get creative and try out new ideas.
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