5 Tips on How to Screw Up Your Family Photos

by Eric Von Lehmden | December 5, 2011

We are all about giving you the tips on how to take better photos of your family, pet, vacation photos...whatever floats your boat. But you may be doing things to mess up your photos that you didn't even know you are doing. Here are 5 common mistakes that we all have made that inevitably mess up that family photo.

  1. THANKS MOM, NOW I'M SEEING SUN SPOTS - Everyone in the photo is squinting and you can't see Dad's face because he has a baseball hat on. What happened? Well, you took the photo during the brightest part of the day and everyone is facing the sun or the sun is directly overhead. This causes everyone to squint and casts really dark shadow's on everyone's faces. Now I know you were at Disney World and you really wanted to get the shot with the flying Dumbos in the background and that is fine. So you have to take the good with the bad, but look around for some different options. One option is to find a shady spot for everyone to stand under to get that photo. Another option would be to find an angle where everyone isn't facing into the sun and you can still see Dumbo flapping those ears in the background. The last option would be to wait until a cloud comes over to give you that perfect even light you need...of course on a cloudless day you may be waiting a loooong time.
  2. YOU CHOPPED MY FEET OFF! - You have seen this one. You see everyone's entire body...except for their feet in the photo. The photo "rules" for composing a group or individual portrait is to crop either A. Just above the knees B. Mid-Thigh or C. At the hips. Anything below the knee can look a little strange.
  3. THE PHOTO IS VERTI-ZONTAL - It's not quite vertical and it's not quite horizontal. Somewhere in the middle makes it a crooked photo. Now some wedding photographers try to pull this off, but it rarely works out as a good photo. Try your best to keep your camera level while taking the photo. Find a horizon line somewhere in the background as a guide to help find that perfect level photo.
  4. I ONLY SEE THE TOP OF GRANDPA'S HEAD! - Taking a large group photo can be kind of stressful. Take your time, even though most of the family wants to get back to eating, drinking, or whatever it was they were doing. Something that can easily ruin a great family shot is people hiding behind other people in the back. And all you end up seeing of them is the top of their head or half of their face. It's not enough to tell everyone, "If you can't see the camera then you won't be in the picture." Because you will have the smart aleck uncle who is barely peeking his eyes over someone's shoulder. Look through your camera and check to see that you can see everyone's face through the camera...again, take your time, it's worth moving people around a little to make sure everyone is in the photo. Sitting some people in the front in chairs helps with the tiered effect when you don't have steps to stagger people on.
  5. PUT THE DRINKS AND FOOD...DOWN - During the Christmas season you are likely to be at several parties or family gatherings and these are all fantastic photo-ops because you are visiting with people you haven't seen in a while and enjoying good food and maybe a little eggnog. But nothing will ruin a photo faster than someone holding a plastic plate of half eaten food. Take a quick second to have everyone put their plates and drinks down before taking their photo.

We hope you take these tips to heart and try to remember the mistakes that so many of us have made in the past. This is a festive and happy season and we would hate for a ruined family photo to bring down anyone's spirits. As always, you can count on Canvas Press to give it to you straight.

Photography, fine art printing and decorating news and advice

Tips-n-Tricks #398

Make your own photobooth at your next party. Set up a simple backdrop and put your camera on a tripod, set the focus manually, and tun on the timer function. Now people can head over and hit the shutter button and the camera will go off just like in a photobooth. Someone could man it if you didn't trust your friends with your camera.


Turn your walls in to unique works of art