A Turkey Day Treat: Top 5 Tips to Thanksgiving Portraits

Hosting Thanksgiving tomorrow and you still want to get a family portrait from the big day?

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house the family was …

  • Tidying up the main room

  • Chopping ingredients for the big meal

  • Asking, “Where does this go?” for the 500+ time

  • And dozens of other things


You stop and wonder how on earth you’ll get the meal out in a reasonable amount of time, much less get everyone together in a photograph.

Take a deep breath and let me share a few tricks up my sleeve:

  1. Antenna patrol:   Before you place everyone, take a look at the surroundings and ask yourself if there’s any distracting element in the background that might give someone antennae  (e.g. doorway molding, antlers from a hunting trophy, etc)

  2. Pace everyone out:  Incorporate the sofa - even the ends of the sofa - or some kitchen chairs to stagger everyone out in terms of height. Otherwise, everyone clusters in a big clump and they look uncomfortable (because they are uncomfortably crowded), OR everyone is in a long line and it resembles more of a line up than anything festive.

    For instance, got a loveseat?  Great! Place a few of the younger kids on the floor in front of the loveseat - with a board book or a toy if that keeps them occupied, then seat 3 grown-ups on the loveseat itself, followed by adults on either end of the loveseat, and then fill in the remain adults around the edges.  Voila! Does that change things?

  3. Lengthen Out:  Whether standing or sitting, everyone should use good posture - aka no slouching.  

    Got some taller folks throwing off your composition - i.e. out of frame?

    Have them take a seat or take a knee - even kneel on an ottoman that others are seated on, or take a wide stance so that they’re on a similar plane as everyone else.

  4. Level up:  As in, take one of those boxes from Amazon thanks to early holiday specials or a step-stool and use it to add some height to your camera.  

  5. Time it:  Use a timer so you can be in it with everyone else.  Leave a gap in the pose so you have a set spot just for you. Remember, someday the rest of the family might wonder where you were that year.  Plus, fair is fair - if you want the photograph, you should be willing to be in it.

BONUS:  Be sneaky: Can you set the camera up to take 3 photos in a row?   Do it! Then, tell everyone to smile for the first & make a goofy face for the second.  By the third, everyone will be relaxed and laughing - an improv moment of fun in the family.


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