Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chee-eeeeese! How to take great photographs of your family


By Allie McComas

"Say 'cheese-burger'," I say, thinking my witty term would illicit a chuckle from my kids, or at least a smile, for a great picture on Easter Sunday.


"Caitlin, look up, move your hand away from your mouth. Dakota, you look like a maniac -- don't smile that much! Madison, fix your shirt, your strap is showing, get closer, hey, look up here...Guys! Look at Mommy!"

Ah, the moment was gone. My wonderful picture I had envisioned in my mind, the one I would send to all my family, friends, and anybody else I haven't emailed since Christmas, wasn't even worth saving from the delete button. Where did I go wrong?

"Where did I go wrong?"

Thus began my journey towards taking the ultimate family picture! For those who can barely take a picture that isn't blurry (you know who you are), take heart. We'll walk through this together.

I started by thinking of the kind of photos that I liked from my collection. One of my all-time favorite pictures is from my wedding. And, surprisingly enough, it wasn't one that was posed.

At some point between all the various poses, my new husband and I were standing in front of the river, still holding each other from the last shot, and were sharing an intimate moment together in our own little wedded bliss, looking lovingly into each other's eyes, when the photographer took a picture.

I didn't even realize it at the time (that's bliss for you!).

When we got our pictures back, I searched for those shots that captured the essence of the day. We poured through many seemingly-stale poses of the wedding party, feeling a little disappointed at the plastic half-grins and bored eyes I kept seeing. Then, I came across my picture. That one picture captured the "trueness" of our feelings that day. Out of 400+ pictures, it's the only one of our wedding I cherish and keep displayed.

That's what I wanted for my family pictures. I wanted the genuine, real, essence of our family. One that says "Good-looking (well, don't you?) goofy, silly, funny, caring, solid, close-knit family of five".

Then I compared my vision of a "perfect picture" to all of my family portraits. Guess what? Not one portrait was anything other than cheese. That was about to change!

Going beyond cheese

The digital age has brought forth some wonderful technology in terms of what you can do with your pictures. But you still have one hurdle. You must start with a good picture. Using a digital camera definitely helps make a crisp, clean, and clear picture. Now, to get the subjects to cooperate -- that's the key to photographic success!