Holiday Portrait Tips from our Director of Photography

November 28, 2018

The following is post from our Director of Photography and Executive Director, Nate Kresge. 

Growing up in a house with a father who is a photographer meant that we had to look forward to the dreaded family Christmas photo every year.

Mom would figure out what matching outfits we would wear. Dad would arrange us in the most aesthetically way possible. My brother, sister, and I would sit there hating every second of it.

As we grew up, the outfits didn’t match as much and the poses became more candid. Finding the time that we could all be together for a photo became the tricky part.

I often see families stress over getting the perfect photo this time of year. Kids are home from college. Relatives are in from out of town. The pressure is on to grab a great shot.

Although we aren’t in the business of shooting family portraits at GK Visual, we have photographed a lot of families through our political work.

Here are a few tips that we’ve discovered over the years that have helped to get a great shot.

Don’t Over Think It

Too much planning for a photo yields a result of just that — a photo that looks overly posed. The most loved photos are the ones that have a candid feel.

Are you having everyone to your house over the holidays? Take them to the porch and tell them to pile onto your front steps. Maybe it will snow and you can have everyone throw snow at each other. Be creative and have fun.

Have the Camera Ready

Have your camera or cell phone ready to snap a photo at any time. When we shoot photos of families, we are constantly snapping shots. You never know when the stars will align and everyone will have smiles on their faces.

We once had a family with a young boy who we couldn’t get to smile. The father asked him if he knew any funny words, and the boy, without hesitation, yelled out, “penis!”


That made for a memorable family photo.

Stay Close

If you do plan on posing a photo, keep everyone close to each other. When the subjects are spread out, the lens of the camera exaggerates this, and it can make it look like people don’t like each other.

Find a situation that will keep your loved ones closer together. Steps to a back porch often work great.

Share Your Photos

For the most part, the people in your photos enjoy seeing them. Don’t let the photos just sit on your phone only to be rediscovered when you decide to find that picture of that great meal you just had to shoot for your Instagram.

Facebook is an obvious way to share these photographic gems. Another great way are digital photo frames. We bought one for my wife’s grandmother last year. We can upload photos from our phone directly to her frame.

Your family and friends can also upload to the same frame. Now G-Ma can see what all her grandkids are up to.

Happy holidays and happy shooting!