Santa's Desk

Christmas Photos on a Budget – 8 Ways to Achieve Professional Quality Family Photos with Your Cell Phone

The holiday season comes with a lot of good cheer, family, and great times. Unfortunately, it also has a great reputation for draining your bank accounts. Christmas shopping, decorations, holiday parties and dinners all have a price tag attached. Even details as small as family photos and Christmas cards can get expensive if you’re not careful. The good news is that with a little photography knowledge and the right tools, holiday family portraits don’t have to break the bank.  Here are a few tips you can implement to achieve professional looking family photos DIY style while using your iPhone or Android phone. Christmas photos on a budget

Clean the camera lens

This probably goes without saying, but it’s a good place to start when snapping important family photos on your cell phone. Make certain the lens on your camera is clean and free of any smudges. Getting a great shot is meaningless if something is smeared all over the lens.

Use delayed snap feature

Most modern phones have a feature in the camera where you can set up the camera to snap a photo on a delayed timer. Take advantage of this feature for quick and easy family photos you can do at home. Place the phone on a flat surface, set the timer and get into position before the photo is snapped. Christmas photos on a budget

Use landscape orientation

Your photos will look a lot better using a wide angle. To get this effect, flip the camera on it’s side to use a landscape orientation setting. This will ensure you get the maximum amount of your subject in the photo. It will also give you more options when it comes to post editing and cropping.

Select a creative backdrop

Get creative with your photo backdrop. You may not be in a professional studio, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make your backdrop look professional. You can simply take a photo on your couch if it’s alongside a wall. You can use the stairwell as a nice backdrop with some holiday decorations. You can take the family in the backyard and snap photos there if your landscaping is nice. You can even experiment with different props and go as far as making your own backdrop.  Some white lights and wooden pallets can do wonders as a backdrop, or even some gift wrapping paper can look good if the pattern is not too busy.

Use natural lighting

The best thing you can do for your DIY family portrait session is incorporate natural lighting. Natural sunlight will provide an organic warm feel to your photo that is extremely difficult to duplicate.  The right amount of light can bring a photo alive. Plan your photo session during a time of day when the sun is brightest. Open a window to allow natural sunlight into your shot.

Use the Rule of Thirds

Although, you may not be a trained photographer, there are a few useful photography rules you should be aware of when doing professional photos yourself. One rule you should study up on is Rule of Thirds.  Studies have been done on this and the general consensus among photography wizards is that the most boring part of the photo is in the dead center.  We know this seems counterintuitive, but you want to avoid centering your shots based on the dead center of the lens. Try using more interesting asymmetrical positions. One way to do this is to imagine grid lines in your lens, three rows across and three rows down. Focus on putting your subjects at the cross-section of those gridlines. Christmas photos on a budget

Remember to use Depth of Field

Depth of Field is another fancy photography term. Having a good depth of field in your shot makes the photo look extremely professional. It provides a contrast between something that is pulled into focus and something that is not in focus in the same photo. You can achieve this look easily by bringing the camera close up to a subject and focusing on that subject. Depending on how far back your background goes, everything else behind your subject will pull out of focus, which beautifully highlights what is in focus – your subject.

You can bring good cheer to your family and friends with a professional family portrait without spending a lot of money doing it. By using simple tricks such as cleaning the lens, natural lighting, a couple simple photography hacks, and a creative backdrop you can create a family photo session to be proud of.  Your wallet will thank you. It’s a win-win all around.