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DIY Family Portraits

Ready for a crash course on the family “selfie”? You may or may not know, I am a HUGE fan of the family photo “selfie”. There’s something fun for me about planning outfits, setting everything up, then having that “YES!! I got what I wanted” moment when I load the photos on my computer for editing. It’s so satisfying. Here are some of my personal favorite family selfie photos.

Tripod and Remote

My favorite method is using a tripod and remote. It’s pretty standard, set the tripod up and make sure the remote is synced up to your camera. This method works best for me because Christopher likes to press the button and see if he can hide the remote before the camera goes off. It’s a game to him so we start by telling him if he’s good for the first few then he can press the button on the remote and take the photos for us. I’ll take about 10 before handing it over then we let him take 5-10 more, depending on how Ada is behaving. I guess when she starts wanting to press the button we will be rotating the remote. If you’re buying a remote make sure it’s compatible with your device and find one with a timer. You can’t hide the remote if it’s clicking the minute you hit the button.

The remote is under my leg in this shot. Christopher was busy playing with the pumpkins so he wasn’t interested in pushing the button yet.

Self Timer

The second method I use is the self timer. I have a 3 second or 10 second option so I always use the 10 second and guess who I let push the button…that’s right, Christopher. He LOVES to press the button and run back to us before the shutter clicks. The beach photo below is one where we used that method. He’s so excited when he makes his mark he’s smiling and I don’t have to fuss over whether or not my hair is still in place.

Christopher did the work here. He pressed the button on the camera and ran back to make it in time. We get the best smiles from him when we let him do this!

Using your Phone

So now you’re saying, “that’s nice and all but Jaden, I don’t have a camera. I’m taking these photos with my iPhone.” Let’s chat about that. The iPhone also has a 3 or 10 second timer option and you can pick up a really handy iphone tripod for under $30. The one linked there also has a remote. If you don’t want to do the tripod and remote way here are some tips for setting your iPhone up and getting the shot.

  • use the back side of your iPhone to take the photos, the camera on the back is better than the camera on the front
  • prop it somewhere so you have easy access to the button and it won’t fall when you press the button, books work well for this
  • use the 10 second self timer
  • set everyone in your family up and leave room for yourself, spend the time getting the shot “right” before you start doing the back and forth, this will help ensure you don’t have crooked photos or missing people
This one was also Christopher hitting the button on my iPhone and running back to get in the photo.


Side note: I’m an iPhone girl so I can’t specifically speak to other brands but I’m sure they are all pretty similar in this feature.

Where to Set Up

As with most things in the photography world the answer to this is…where is the light? If you have your tree set up by a window and you get great natural light then set up and take it by the tree, same goes for the mantle. Cameras can do a lot these days with less than ideal light but without editing software you will need to be mindful that there is only so much turning all the lights on in your house can do.

This is an ALL the lights in our living room are on. We also did this one during the afternoon when the sun sets behind our house and the light from the windows, which are to the front left of us here, is at it’s greatest brightness.

Ideally, you’ll want to take this photo outside. Here’s the best part about living in Savannah, you can dress yourself up in holiday themed clothing year round and get the shot because the background will look the same 90% of the year. 😝 A few places you could try if you really want a more holiday background in the area are Truitt’s Christmas Tree Farm in Effingham or maybe the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens once the decorate for the holidays.

A few things to think about when setting up your shot.

  • landscape or portrait – if you are putting this in a card to send it would be helpful to know ahead of time if you are needing a sideways (landscape) or up and down (portrait) shot
  • if the card design you are choosing has writing in specific areas you will want to make sure you take that into consideration. Covering someone’s face with Happy Holidays is a bummer
  • check your background for clutter and clear it or move if necessary. The all time BEST photo of your family with the park port-o-john in the back will make for a funny story down the road but might not be what you are looking for right now

Don’t Stress…It Takes Practice

You’ve heard the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, right? Same for taking photos yourself. You have to practice and learn different things about the light, camera, subject, etc.

A handy guide to learning the basics of your camera can be found HERE. This is the first in a series of blogs on camera basics. 

Think this all sounds great but need a photo now and don’t have time to practice? That’s where I come in!! There is still time to book your family session and with 48 hour turn around on galleries you’ll be mailing Christmas Cards out in no time! You can CLICK HERE to get started on booking a session!

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meet the photographer jaden

Working on my dream and meeting special families along the way, I believe everyone deserves amazing photographs which capture the moments in life that bring them joy. I photograph families, like yours, who wish they could freeze time, even for just a second, and always remember the special moments of life.

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