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  • Writer's pictureSarah Nantel


Our family has been doing the fall photo tradition since we had our two boys, it makes for the perfect snapshot to compare how much they’ve grown each year. Like you, we also use these photos for our Christmas cards. This year has been a little crazy and we were late trying to get in with our usual photographer. Instead, I decided to take our own and this is how I captured my family without costing us anything.


The biggest piece here is the camera. If you have children, then a GOOD camera is an investment and one that you will never regret. I use a DSLR Canon Rebel T3i with an Insignia Tripod. Yes, they are expensive but it’s a one-time purchase that will last you years. Last month, I purchased a 50mm lens and I am so happy with how my photos are turning out. PLUS, think of all the money you will save on photographer costs if you learn how to shoot them yourself!


Being outside is the BEST place to take photos. Natural light and a beautiful setting will always lead to a great photo. A park with lots of trees is my favourite place for photo shoots. Believe it or not, sunny days are NOT the best time for photos. It can lead to squinting eyes and funny shadows on your face, so seek a shady spot!


As mentioned above, find a shadowed spot that is shielding your family and your camera from direct sunlight. In our photos this year, we set up on a path between some evergreens, allowing for a nice shaded area. The pathway behind us still allotted for a great amount of bright sunlight.


Personally, I never use a flash when photographing. The natural light is just so much nicer! That’s why having a good camera is necessary here. I don’t shoot in automatic either as I find everything turns out too dark. “TV’ is my favourite setting on my camera, which allows me to turn up the ISO to allow for more light filter and control the shutter speed.


Now, I would suggest have everyone sitting down (bring a pretty blanket!) so that not a lot of movement can occur and you can position everyone how you want them. Plus, your kids are less likely to run away! Set up your tripod and position your family so that you can take a few photos and adjust the settings as necessary. Set the timer for the 10-second countdown and then pop into your photo for the shot.


Without using the tripod, get your kids to interact and snap some candid photos of them. It’s easy to do and will give you some more great options. I took a few of my boys together, some with my husband and then let my husband take a few of us together.


I always love doing one prop photo every year. Last year was matching toques and this year was Blue Jays hats. It just adds a little fun to your shoot and makes for a great pic to put on the back of your Christmas card. This is the time to be matchy-matchy!


Once you’ve uploaded your photos to your computer, use the editing tools to brighten and adjust colours. If you’re using a Mac computer, try the Auto Enhance feature in the Photos app, then click on the Adjust tab to further edit if needed. Play with the levels until you have something you love!

These photos took us less than twenty minutes. We didn’t have a lot of expectations but we are so happy with how they turned out. Just take as many as your kids will allow, you only need a few good ones! They won’t ever be perfect but they will be great!

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