Picture Perfect Holiday

‘Tis the season to take a photo that will look just magical on your holiday card—one that perfectly captures the love and adoration of your beloved family.


That’s the dream, anyway. The reality? Fights over what to wear and who’s standing next to each other can make you want to call it a day before the first photo is snapped. Try these quick tips from professional photographers Diane Hamilton of Wilmette, David Sutton of Evanston, John Reilly of Lake Forest, and George Papadakis of South Barrington to help make your photo session painless.

Outdoor Locations
Be mindful of the sun! Try to have even light and avoid harsh shadows on faces, says Sutton. When photographing into the sun, shoot for a photo-op before 9:30 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when there is pretty backlighting, suggests Reilly. Use available light, says Papadakis. Turning on the flash can sometimes lose naturalness. Avoid busy backgrounds! Pose before solid foliage for a more classic look, says Reilly.

Indoor Locations
Instead of using your camera flash, take advantage of natural light by positioning your kids to the side of a large window, says Hamilton.

At a location or in the studio, Reilly prefers a style that is refined casual. Simple clothes with simple lines look best, so avoid busy apparel and horizontal lines. Though flashy clothes may be fun to wear for some, they can distract from the image, says Papadakis. Instead, slacks and shirts with sleeves are ideal for achieving that classic look, says Reilly. For bigger individuals, wear medium-to-darker tones. Youthful subjects can wear mid-to-light tones and can go sleeveless and wear shorts.

For mixing ages, heights, kids, and pets, experiment with front porches with steps, says Sutton. Before you snap the shutter, survey the background for trees or furniture that might look like it is growing out of Junior’s head, says Hamilton. Instead of asking your children to smile, engage them in a funny conversation, tell jokes, or have them just get silly together. The best images don’t always have everyone looking at the camera. What’s happening naturally may be of more interest than trying to create a posed shot, says Papadakis. The most important tip? Relax and have fun! Pick a time when everyone is well rested and not in a hurry. Your kids will look more natural and happy when they know that you are, too.

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