Friday, September 09, 2016

DIY Family Photos: Embracing Your Timer

Time to get things set up and get your photos taken! If you have a tripod, great - but if not, see if you can borrow one or set up a makeshift option instead. Your main goals in using a tripod are of course that you will be hands free, have the right angle and also no shake on your camera which could cause blurry photos.

If you have a chair or ladder to set your camera on, just make sure to rubberband or tie in place so that it doesn't wiggle and give you that shaky hand look! Decide if you want your camera to be straight on or above you and adjust accordingly. I like straight on and usually put my camera suprisingly low to the ground to get our family photos - I also like photos where we are sitting on the ground huddled close together so this works well for that. For a standing photo, obviously you'd need to raise a few feet!

Get your family situated without you first so you can take a test photo or two making sure your angle and zoom are all set correctly.

If you have a DSLR camera, great - go for it! I'm using a bridge camera but a point and shoot would work too. And, I'm betting you could even get a pretty great photo on most smartphones.

A couple of thoughts about camera settings:
- test out more than one setting to make sure you are happy with the colors, lighting, etc. on that setting. It only takes a minute and you'll be happier with your results!
- try an outdoor or macro setting: set up your tripod farther away and zoom in to get the bokeh {blurry background} look without a fancy camera or setting.
- use the zoom option! The zoom and macro settings are the most used options on my camera. You can use auto focus and auto settings and still get great photos! That is how I take all my photos and they may not be as professional as some other options, but I think they are great quality and what works for me. Zoom is great for minimizing your background noise, getting good tight close ups and catching a more intimate look!

If your camera has a timer burst option, use that to your advantage! One of the options I have is a ten second delay that will then take three photos about 1 second apart. This is perfect for if someone blinks in the first one but you might've had a great shot set up. Instead of hopping up to reset your timer every single photo, just wait for the next one to catch you.

Before telling everyone you are done, go ahead and download these photos to your computer. You'll be able to see so much better on the larger screen and will be able to tell easier if you got what you were hoping for. Declare a five minute break and look through them before deciding if you are done or if you need to re-try something. Don't settle for second best or being disappointed - the beauty of digital photography is that it is fast, cheap and easy to do.

Make sure your list of desired photos is handy and have fun getting creative! As far as poses, I sort of wing this and eyeball it - but you could research some options on Pinterest and see what you like based on how many are in your family photo. I thought this was a great article: Common Posing Mistakes and Fixes.

Here are our photos! Yes, there are some water spots on Rachel's dress because kids + water = splashing! Almost every photo I show here on my blog is straight out of my camera {SOOC} this time, I did add a filter or two, do some cropping and even add a little shadowing (vignette) around the edges to bring your eye in and soften the edges. You can do all of this in Google photos - I don't own any editing software. Most of these photos are not edited.

Handheld favorites:



These few were taken by Emily - I showed her an example of what I wanted and helped set them up and she snapped.

Don't be afraid to crop to get what you want - here is an example.

Emily took this:

I cropped and edited to this:

Timer Shots:

Keep snapping in between because you might get a few treasures like these:

Don't be afraid to take a LOT of photos. They are free and deleting them is easy! There are probably at least 100 more photos from our photo shoot that I'm not selecting because pose was off, someone blinked or was throwing a pinecone grenade {ahem} or I cut Mr. Tall's head off because I ran up the dock to get in the photo and bumped the tripod!

Hope this series has been helpful! Happy memory making!


Leanne said...

these are so good!! I'm going to use them for some of our posing ideas this year!!! one website I do like A LOT because its super easy for editing is .... thanks for sharing!!

Tina Leigh said...

The last four group photos are excellent. Actually, all of them are precious & I think are professional quality. You have a good eye. I love the cropped one of you and your husband as well. I love this series on taking your own pictures. I have always loved taking pictures but stopped a few years ago when internet became an issue where we live. My favorite is to take "unposed" pictures just to capture a moment I never want to forget. I love these ideas you have Monica. I would love to incorporate them into some family pictures of my "unphotogentic" family, lol. Love what you did here.

Anonymous said...

Really awesome pictures. Thanks for all the great tips. I'm going to give this a try this fall and will be referring back to your posts!

MH in OH said...

Your photos are wonderful! Thanks for the inspiration to try out the timer function on my camera - I'm going to have to learn to use it. We are fortunate to have some options for low cost photographers - we have not one but two friends locally who will do photos for $50 - 100 and give us a disk with edited images. Also my cousin is an aspiring photographer and will do photos for us.
I think the message in your posts and what I want to stress is that it's so worth it to go to the effort of getting family photos - your point is that it doesn't have to be expensive, but sometimes just getting everyone to take the time to make it happen is the barrier. (My husband has low tolerance for photo sessions.) I am always happy with the result of family photos - even when they aren't "perfect".

Lisa M. said...

Thanks for this series. I wonder how big these photos can be enlarged to? We have a larger frame that we use for family photos.

Unknown said...

Love! Great job!

Mom said...

Oh my goodness - love, love, love these photos (and the people in them)!!! All of your effort paid off for these treasures! :)

Wendi said...

Oh, I love this! We have been taking our own photos for about three years. Not only does it save a ton of money but we make great memories during our photo shoot. I have a point and click Cannon that is okay. My mother-in-law has a nice camera that I borrow it when we do our photo shoots.

Jennifer Williams said...

Through reading your blog, I have come to love you and your family. These pictures are wonderful! Your children are precious and their sweet and funny personalities shine through in these photos! The photos of you and your husband are priceless. They remind me that my husband and I rarely get any photos of us together. One of us is always behind the camera! Thanks for sharing. :-)

domenica.60 said...

Superb !
your pictures are for ... Joy !
Happy Sunday :)

Shelby said...

Oh friend, I adore you:) I love how well the pictures turned out and everything about how you explained how to obtain the right picture from the cloths to lighting? You guys are very photogenic. xoxoxo thanks for sharing. You really have a good eye.

*carrie* said...

Those turned out great, Mo!

And I just saw your book featured in another MSM post--yay.

Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful!

Karen said...

So you don't shoot on manual? I never touch auto because it uses a do you get your pictures so lovely on Auto???

Monica Wilkinson said...

@Karen: Hi! That's right - I shoot completely on Auto. I think every camera I've ever used has had a way to manually turn the flash off. I despise flash - you are right it ruins many auto photos. The flash on my camera has to be turned on - so that works well for me, I've rarely used it and plus it helps the battery last a lot longer without the flash!

As mentioned in this series, I do use several different settings. My absolute favorite setting is outdoor macro setting. It allows me to get crisper photos when I have the benefit of great outdoor lighting. I can also focus very close on things and still get a lovely image. And, it does great on the blurred background {bokeh} effect as well.

Most of my photos are taken in the Macro setting. It is still auto, but it is a separate setting from one that tries to read your surroundings.

Hope that helps!

Karen said...

This blows my mind! I will have to try it! I have a Nikon D90, and I always shoot in manual, but it takes a lot to adjust the lighting etc. Eager to try it!

Monica Wilkinson said...

@Karen - hope it works for you!! I do not have a DSLR camera, but it will shoot manually if I want it to. I've tried it a handful of times but feel that the effort {as you mention!} is not worth any real difference in the outcome.