by Nancy Hogan Neill, DRES System marketing assistant & wordsmith

At this time of year, many of us secretly hope that our awkward family portraits from years past will not see the light of day, however brief their exposure. Let’s face it: Do any of us really want any of our friends or new spouses or stepchildren to get a load of this?!


Here’s some help for any family photos you might be planning, to use either this year or in the years beyond.

Ask your friends, work colleagues or family members for recommendations if you’re considering using a professional photographer. There’s always Yelp and Angie’s List too, if you’re a member. Too expensive to use a pro? Consider calling a local college to see if they have a visual arts program from which to pull student candidates.

If you have small children or want to include family pets, work around their schedules–especially mealtimes and naps. A cranky, hungry child isn’t going to be happy being told to “smile for the birdie!”

If you’re working with a professional photographer, be flexible about where the photos are taken. If your pro snapper says the weather is offering good light, by all means go with it! If conditions are poor, be ready to go inside and face the lights.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a flat price, just remember that the person you hire always maintains the rights to the original digital files or negatives.

Spend some time coordinating the family outfits, but don’t try to match them. Do not use white, and do not use patterns. Remember the camera adds 10 lbs, and white or patterns only make this worse. (See example above!)

 Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment! But if you’re determined that you will take your own family photo and you don’t feel super-qualified, there are more than enough resources on the Web to find the best ways to pose, how close in to shoot, and so on.

Follow some basics outlined here and you’ll end up with a wonderful family portrait like this one!

Happy Holidays! 

Learn more about the DRES System at

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