5 tricks to getting the perfect family photo, from a professional photographer

Getting the perfect shot of your loved ones during the hectic holiday season is no small feat. With kids running around, people playing games or watching TV and others prepping food in the kitchen, getting everyone looking nice, smiling (and remaining in a good mood afterwards) can seem impossible. 

This year, we reached out to Tamara Lackey, a professional family photographer and Nikon Ambassador to get her best advice for capturing all of the important moments this holiday. Scroll through the gallery below to see what this pro has to say about props, outfits and still enjoying the special day. 

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Family photo tips from a photographer
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Family photo tips from a photographer

1. Dress for the Occasion

"One helpful way to master a fantastic family photograph is to ensure that everyone in the family is wearing clothing that coordinates well. When selecting your clothing choices, try to avoid bold patterns or prints - or having one member of the family wearing bright red plaid while everyone else wears a soft yellow! Wearing more neutral tones can make a group of individuals looks more like a “one.” Another common mistake that many families make is wearing matching outfits. This tends to make your photo feel too planned and staged. It is best to simply coordinate colors to capture an authentic photo."

Credit: Tamara Lackey, Nikon Ambassador

2. Picture-perfect posing, but keep it fun 

"Posing is another essential to the success of any group shot. Experiment with different combinations of standing and sitting shots, and play with different backgrounds to get a variety of shots. Whether it be posing in front of the pine trees in your backyard or against the brick fireplace to capture a cozy, winter feel, take advantage of the elements around you that will get everyone in the holiday spirit! While posing is important, the key to the best photos are when you capture raw, authentic expressions. It is important that the shooting experience is fun and light-hearted if you want to capture authentic smiles of the entire family. For your little ones with short attention spans, try making funny faces or telling jokes that will create genuine laughter. A perfectly-posed shot is more often than not a candid moment."

Credit: Tamara Lackey, Nikon Ambassador

3. Get creative with props 

"To capture the spirit of the holidays in your photos, get creative with festive props! Some fun ideas are to have your family wear reindeer or Santa hats, or have children hold wrapped presents or snow globes to add a festive flare. Also don’t forget your furry friends -- if you have a pet, let them in on the fun, by giving them their own Santa costume. The more the merrier!"

Credit: Tamara Lackey, Nikon Ambassador

4. Step Up Your Camera Game 

"After spending the time to coordinate outfits, select the perfect backdrop and get creative with props, you will want a high-quality camera, rather than a smartphone, to take your images to the next level. The Nikon D3500 is a great option to consider for first-time photographers thanks to its built-in Guide Mode, which helps automatically adjusts settings to produce high quality shots with just the click of a button. Additionally, with built-in Bluetooth, the camera enables you to instantly share photos your social channels to spread the holiday cheer with friends!"

Credit: Tamara Lackey, Nikon Ambassador

5. Be a “Snap Happy” Parent 

"With your kids running around on a candy-cane sugar high, have your camera out and ready to capture the action! Look to fast lenses and high shutter speeds that will allow you to capture these moments in real-time. Having a mix of traditional posed family photos and candid camera moments will make for a family photo album that you can cherish for years to come."

Credit: Tamara Lackey, Nikon Ambassador

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