Tips for taking the perfect family portrait this holiday season

November 09, 2021 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
The holidays are right around the corner, which means holiday cards aren’t far behind. Learn how to take the perfect family portrait this holiday season.

The holidays are right around the corner, and one tradition many families share is taking annual holiday portraits. What many people don’t know, though, is just how much goes into getting the perfect portrait. Every little part matters and, if done correctly, they all come together to tell a story. Below are a few tips to help you capture photos that best represent your family.



Choose a theme

First, choose a theme to set the tone for your holiday portrait. Choose a specific setting to go with your theme, whether it be outside, in your home or at a unique location. Then, decide what the tone of your portrait will be. It could be sentimental, friendly, comedic or traditional. Regardless of what you choose, knowing what emotions you want your portrait to inspire in friends and family will help you get one step closer to the perfect family photo.

Find a way to stand out 

Now it’s time to figure out what you’ll wear in your family portrait! Red and green are typical go-to colors for holiday photos. However, some families choose to mix it up a bit by dressing in natural earth tones. You can also utilize different patterns, all dress in the same solid color, complementary colors or mix and match. 



Embrace holiday traditions

Pick the perfect pose to go with your theme. Remember, it’s important to have fun and take photos that bring out your individuality. Stand together as a group, choose goofy poses for the children or capture your family’s unique holiday tradition, such as hiking or decorating the family tree.

Add props

Utilize props to help bring your photos to life. You can use hats, ornaments, candy canes, sparklers, holiday lights and more to add something special to your portrait. Letting your children play with props and capturing those candid moments will make your portrait unique.

Mix it up

Photo variety is a great way to help keep your portrait interesting. Capture candids, action shots, intimate moments and smiling photos, so you have a wide range of photos to choose from.

Get the whole family in on it

Don’t be afraid to get the whole family in on the fun. Be sure to include your pets in your holiday photos too. Putting them in festive sweaters or antlers is a great way to have them match your theme.



Utilize your smartphone and digital camera

Instead of choosing between taking photos with your smartphone or digital camera, use them both. Tripods are another great tool to use when taking family photos. With a tripod and the self timer function on your camera, everyone can get in the picture together.

Take out the selfie stick

If you have a selfie stick, use it. Selfie sticks make it easy to take photos from a new viewpoint, making them another fun way to spice up your family portrait.

Edit your favorite images

After you’ve taken your photos, it’s time to bring them to life. Programs such as Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator are excellent platforms to help fine-tune your family portraits. Other user-friendly photo editing apps include Adobe Lightroom, Picsart and Google Photos.

If you’re an ASU student or plan on enrolling, find out how to access your free Adobe Creative Cloud account and start editing your photos today.


Location and time

Take advantage of indoor and outdoor scenery 

Choose the right location for your family photos. Indoor settings can be cozy and intimate for family portraits while outdoor settings can inspire action shots and non-traditional photos. It’s important to note that when taking photos indoors, the lighting is easier to control. Outdoor photos have to be timed just right to ensure you get the right exposure and setting. However, both locations are great options for holiday family portraits.

Embrace golden hour

Golden hour happens when the sun is just about to rise or set, creating the perfect lighting for your portrait. When taking photos in outdoor locations during that time of the day, remember to turn off the flash and let the natural lighting do the work for you. It’s also important to note that facing away from the sun can cause your photos to be washed out. Find a good place to take photos outside where the natural lighting won’t take away from your photos, but rather add to them.


Turn your love for digital photography into a career

Love taking charge of your family’s holiday photos? Consider enrolling in ASU Online’s digital photography degree concentration.

In this program, you’ll learn how to create meaningful photographs, give constructive feedback and grow artistically with the guidance of your mentors and peers. This digital photography degree concentration covers a variety of techniques to help you create exceptional photos and set yourself apart from the competition. At the end of this program, you’ll create a final portfolio and a cohesive artist statement, both which are useful when applying to jobs and submitting work to exhibitions.

Upon graduation, you’ll have the knowledge and skills need to become an:

  • Art director.
  • Animator.
  • Photographer.
  • Film editor.
  • Photo lab specialist.

Expand your photography skills and apply to ASU Online’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in art with a concentration in digital photography today.

5 benefits of transferring to an online program

Earning your degree online can give you the flexibility you need to complete your education. Learn more about the benefits of transferring to an online program.


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