Today we're thrilled to have Gina from Gina Cristine Photography to give us tips on how to take a family photo using your camera's timer. During the holidays grandma loves nothing more than getting a family photo of everyone together.  Or perhaps, you forgot to book your favorite photographer for a holiday card photo. Either way you now have to figure out the self timer on your camera and take a precious family photo, with yourself in it.  Here are some tips to make sure you have a successful, and not stressful, beautiful family picture taken with the self timer.

1. Find the perfect spot. Ideally, you want to use natural light for the most flattering light. If you are going outside, make sure you are not in direct sunlight. Find somewhere with open shade to avoid squinty eyes and harsh shadows.  If you can not find an outside spot, or it is too cold, use a room with beautiful window light. South facing windows have the best and softest light. If you are lucky enough to have a naturally lit room, you should have  everyone stand facing the window and put the camera and tripod in front of the window. Inside or outside, be aware of your background. The simpler the better, you do not want anything distracting your eye away from the family in the photo..If inside, a fireplace, Christmas tree, or plain wall is always best. Outside, your front porch, backyard, side of the house, forest preserve, or tall grass fields.

2. Practice before you get the family lined up. Put the camera on the tripod and make sure it is level. Then take a few photos on the self timer of just yourself to make sure the image is exposed properly and you are happy with the background.

3. Auto mode is just fine! Unless you are skilled in camera settings and modes. Save yourself the stress and put the camera in auto. That way everyone will be in focus and exposed properly.

4. Line up! If you are taking a family photo of just your husband and kids, Put your husband in the middle so the focus box is on him. You never want to be running into the image after pushing the timer and try to be the focus point. If you are doing a larger group, having grandparents sit in chairs with a couple grandkids on their laps and children and spouses behind them works well. Always make sure you have a person standing where the focus point is. I would choose whoever is standing behind the sitting grandparents.

5. Smile! This is the hardest part as everyone waits for the camera to fire. Unless you have a remote, most likely someone will say "did it take the picture?" right as the camera fires. Tell everyone to look directly into the lens until they see the shutter close. If you have young children, maybe set a stuffed animal or toy on top of the camera so they understand where to look. As you see the light on the camera blink faster have everyone say a funny word or something like "Hawaii!" to get natural smiles. Having everyone say hawaii makes the corners of your mouth turn up naturally. But also saying something like "daddy has stinky toes!" gets true natural smiles out of young children.

Remember to have fun with it and do not stress. Having a photo with everyone in the image is priceless and worth the extra time setting up the perfect photo. When you do finally love an image you captured, make sure to have it printed at a professional lab. My favorite to recommend is always MPix.Com.

Happy Shooting,


Thanks again, Gina, for the great tips!  To learn more about Gina Cristine Photography like her on Facebook or check out her photography blog.