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How To Take A Great Family Photo With Your Camera's Timer

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.



Question: What should my baby wear for pictures?

Answer:  Nothing.

baby photography

mom and baby photography

what to wear for baby pictures

baby and mom photography

what should baby wear for photos

Obviously there are exceptions like family photos outdoors in the snow.  But if you are at home or in the studio and are looking for crisp, pure photos of your beautiful babe, keep it simple in just a diaper or diaper cover.  Baby girls can add a simple headband or clip for a more girly feel.

Often babies under one are wearing so many clothes that they get in the way.  They look stuffed under layers and layers or collars are covering adorable, chubby cheeks.  In the above photos, my sweet baby boy is wearing a plain white diaper from Honest Company.  They are great for milestone photo shoots and also summer months when babies are wearing light colors and you would rather not have polka dots or Sesame Street characters showing through their clothes.

Our big guy is now talking like crazy - we swear we heard him say 'oh, hi!' the other day.  He is crawling backwards, opening cabinets and showing off his big personality.  He melts all of our hearts daily.

If you're planning a family photo session and aren't sure what to wear, TLSF Styling Services can help!  Send an email to for rates and availability.  

Photos by Gina Cristine Photography.



Family Style: Coral Cool Kids

It's July 22nd - do you have your Fall/Holiday photo styling services booked?  The next few months are the busiest for styling families to look and feel fab on their holiday cards.  We would LOVE to help your family, we really would, but we need to get your session scheduled to ensure your family's spot. There is no better feeling than seeing the confidence shine through photos.  Here are late summer looks we put together for one of our favorite clients.

what to wear for family photos

Each outfit is styled to stand alone and reflects the kids' personality.  Together they are a cohesive group with a fun punch of color.  Ready to book your family styling services?  Send an email to for rates and additional information.  We can't wait to share our style files with you!



A Little Photo Studio & Heritage Littles #Chicago

It's pretty rare to find a photographer who can capture your child's true personality.  Especially one that will go to any lengths to get your child to have the perfect giggle that you want to remember forever. The Little Style File

A Little Photo Studio located in Chicago is the place to go for amazing images of your kids that you will treasure forever.

The Little Style File

The Little Style File

The Little Style File

The Little Style File

The Little Style File

The Little Style File

Melissa knows how to bring the happiness out of kids in a very fun and easy way. Our kids immediately took to Melissa and they loved her so much they didn't want to leave!

These are the kind of photos that capture the innocence of childhood.

How perfect will these photos look on a art gallery wall in a home?

We now have to tell you about Heritage Littles. It is a BIG space for your littles. When you walk into the studio its a very warm and inviting space with a very cool feel. We love Chalkboards of any size  and seeing a GIANT one on the wall was kind of love at first sight for us. Kids can test out any of their Heritage Bikes and enjoy a cookie at the awesome Milk and Cookie Bar.

Make sure you like Heritage Littles on Facebook to be in know of their fun monthly events.

Disclousure: We were not compensated for this post. We however have partnered with A Little Photo Studio on the photo shoot.



Gina Cristine Photography: heARTography Project & Photographing the Holidays

In this season of giving, The Little Style File is thrilled to share a new nonprofit project from one of our favorite photographers.  She'll also be sharing great tips for how to photograph your family over the holidays! The Little Style File:  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today.  Please tell us about Gina Cristine Photography. How did it get started?

Gina Cristine Photography:  GCP got started in 2008. I had my daughter Ava, and brought her to one of the mall studio type places for her 6 week pictures. It was freezing, the photographer was very un personable, and Ava broke out in a rash from the dirty blankets. Knowing photography from taking classes in college and my dad showing me film growing up, I decided from now on just to take her photos myself. After friends seeing her photos they started asking for me to take their children's photos. Once people started calling that were friends of friends, I knew it was time to design a professional website and become incorporated. Since then we have grown into needing a studio space and hiring on other photographers. In 2011 I started to realize how fleeting my time was with my two children, and as much as I enjoyed shooting, I needed to step back a bit and have a set schedule with work. So we hired photographers I trust to give my clients options if i was unavailable. It has been working really well and it is so wonderful to work with such a talented group of women!

family photography

TLSF:  How were you inspired to create your nonprofit organization?

GCP:  I feel like it is time to give back. I know that photography is a gift/talent that I can share with others. I actually came up with this idea a few years ago. To give sessions to families who lost their home to a fire. I was not sure how to get it off the ground, so I just let it sit. After the tornadoes in central IL last month, a friend contacted me about getting a gift certificate for a cousin who lost her home. My friend said out of everything she is most upset about the photographs that are gone. They have their lives, but the photo memories are no longer there. Then my idea from a couple years ago popped back into my head. I know we can not replace the lost photos, and I know many of these people will not be ready to take new photos for some time after the disaster, but we will be here, ready for when they are. We want these families to have beautiful ART in their new homes of their family. Their new chapter as survivors. Hence the name HeARTography. I was actually talked out of starting a non profit. Again i sat on it, but this time I fought the nay sayers and reached out on social media to anyone else who has started a non profit. I wanted to know who started one, and what can be so bad about starting it that people were talking me out of it. One of my clients works for an extremely generous man. He believes 200% in non profit and he agreed to talk to me. The first thing he said to me when he got on the phone was "dont let anyone tell you no. there is nothing wrong with doing something good for others" He went on to say how much he supported me and would be here for any advise or help I need along the way. And his conversation ended with "Live simply so other can simply live" That was all I needed. Knowing I had support from someone who has started non profits himself and is so willing to help others. I went home and started posting about HeARTography.

heARTography Project

TLSF:  Who is eligible? How can families apply?

GCP:  Any family that has lost their home to fire or natural disaster. We are looking for families with inspiring stories to share with others who may be going through the same thing. The nomination form is here (you can nominate yourself or a family you know): the heARTography project.

family photography

TLSF:  What can we do to help?

GCP:  As of right now we need to spread the word!!! To let people know we are here! Help us by telling everyone you know. As we grow, we will start needing photographers in other areas and monetary donations so we can include wall prints for the families. Here is the link to more info

TLSF:  Do you have any tips for families taking photographs this holiday season?

GCP:  Of course! This is my favorite time of the year to photograph.

1. Dont forget the details. We tend to just stand there in the back of the room and take photos from afar of baby sitting on grandma's lap, or papa reading a story. Get up close! Get your babies hand in his grandmother's hand. Stand behind papa and get the children's reaction to him telling the story. Always kneel or bend down to get on the child's level. Take photos from their point of view.Think of telling a story of the holiday with pictures not words. What photos would you need to tell the story of that day?

holiday photography

2. Have your camera out so you can capture moments that may seem small, but if your camera is out and ready, you will use it. Think the ornament they made at school, decorating the gingerbread house, playing in front of the tree, baking cookies. These are traditions that may seem small, but you will be so happy to look back on in the years to come.

how to take great holiday photos

The next tips may require a little more camera knowledge, but everyone should give it a try and experiment!

3. Christmas tree and/or holiday light "bokeh". This is where those lights in the background do that beautiful sparkly glow. Put your camera on the Aperture priority mode. Turn your aperture/f-stop to the maximum your lens will go (3.5 for a kit lens but you may have a lens that will do 2.8 or even 1.4). Have you subject sit at least a few feet in front of the tree. Get close to your subject and shoot! This works because you have a better depth of field with a wide open lens and being close on your subject. Basically for those of you that understand your camera, you want a very wide open lens, and a good amount of depth of field. Of course this can be done on manual mode, but I am keeping this as simple as possible.

how to photograph the holidays

4. Snow flakes. This you want to be in shutter priority mode. And you are going to need a snowy (hopefully larger snow flake day) You want a fast shutter speed to stop motion. So set your shutter speed to something fast. Maybe start at 1/1000 of a second. Have your child stand still and try to catch a flake on her tongue. Or have them throw snow up in the air. The faster your shutter, the more likely you will get more detailed snow flakes instead of blurs.

how to photograph the holidays

5. Make a new years resolution to either print these photos or make a book! Don't let all these memories sit on a hard drive. Remember how fun it is for you as a child to look at photos in albums, your kids will love that too. This is something I am so guilty of myself. I have started using blurb. com to make large books of the whole year and to make smaller books of particular events.

holiday photography

Thanks again, Gina, for the great tips and sharing your amazing new project with us!