How To Take a Beautiful … er, Charming Holiday Family Self-Portrait
By Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks
1. Pick a beautiful day, and make everyone get dressed in non-clashing clothes.
Of course, you could get everyone to dress in matching, holiday-themed clothing, but considering the number of groans and do-I-have-tos that will likely ensue just from announcing, “Hey, everyone! Let’s take a picture!” I’d suggest you just make it easy on yourself: insist that everyone wear clothes with no magenta, orange, chartreuse or any other non-complementary colours, and be done with it. And if one of your kids happens to have a big jelly stain on the only shirt that will work for the shot, have him turn it inside out. Trust me, with what’s about to happen, no one will notice the difference.
2. Get a large mirror and a tripod.
You thought I was going to just suggest that you adjust the self-timer on the camera and call it a day, didn’t you? Well, that would be just too logical. Instead, set up the mirror in front of where you’ll all be sitting (preferably in a well-lit area, or better still, outside), and use the tripod (or stack of books, or small shelf, or Fido) to set up the camera aimed at your reflections in the mirror. In my experience, having everyone watch each other in the mirrors (and, yes, laughing at each other’s reflections) gets the most natural smiles.
3. Set everything up, and take a few test shots.
Make sure that you’re all in the frame, even if you’re not perfectly aligned — you’re going to end up editing the final photo anyway. Then once you’re all in the frame, tell everyone to smile sweetly, and squeeze the shutter.
4. Give up on smiling sweetly, and just go with it.
Last year when my family did this, my then-3-year-old daughter Alex was a pro at standing still and smiling sweetly. This year? She became a crazy person. At first, I got frustrated, but then I decided to just go with it. We all made faces in the mirrors, we laughed at each other, and I kept clicking away. I figured, why not? This year will be the year we give out cards with images that show the Real Us.
Well, not exactly the real *me.* I did manage to put down the martini I was drinking to finish taking the photos and get through this ordeal. No need to tell the whole truth, after all.
5. Take tons of shots, pick a few that aren’t too disastrous, and then edit them with photo editing software.
Crop the image as necessary, remembering that standards sizes are 3×5 inches, 4×6 inches, 5×7 inches and 8×10 inches. If you know how, edit the image in Photoshop, or check out some of the great online photo editors, like Picnik, or the brand-spanking-new Phoenix. Once you’re finished, print and stick in all of your holiday cards, to spread laughter and good cheer to all your loved ones.
And then, for God’s sake, pour yourself another martini.