thanksgiving family photosWhenever a family holiday arises, we feel the need to bring out the camera and capture a group shot of everyone crowded around the dinner table. Rather than taking the same photo year after year, try out some new techniques to create an original image.

A Proper Family Photo

Rather than taking the standard “we’re eating at the table” image, take a few moments to have your family pose, with children in front, older adults seated, and younger adults at the back. Make use of a tripod and timer so everyone can be in the photo, and use natural light (not flash) if at all possible, even if it means turning on all the lights and lamps in the house.

tips for thanksgiving family portraitsCandid Photos are Fun Too

Don’t forget to capture a few candids while you have the camera out. Remember to capture kids and their families interacting, particularly if older generations are present. Other candids could include carving the turkey, serving dessert, or simply relaxing after another successful meal.

For best candid results, use a zoom lens with a wide aperture so you can be on the sidelines and let the action play out, while you capture the fun.

tips for thanksgiving family portraits

Be Creative

Even though it’s a relaxed family atmosphere, consider the composition when you are taking Thanksgiving photos of your family. Start by considering the rule of thirds, and try using different angles. For group shots, keep eyes and heads on different levels for variety. If you can get large group shots from a higher vantage point, such as up on a balcony, give it a try.


Look for ways to incorporate holiday-themed surroundings or props into your Thanksgiving photos; such as fall trees and leaves, centerpieces, kids’ school art projects, etc. By including these items you create more of a holiday feel, rather than it being just another family photo.

tips for family portrait thanksgiving

Equipment & Settings

With most images being taken indoors in lower light, you’ll want to depend on a large aperture and higher ISO (around 400-800) to capture the action. A zoom lens is good for candid photos, but for group shots you’ll need a bit of a wider angle. You can use flash to “fill in” shadows if necessary, but avoid using it for your primary light source as it will merely give you red eye and bad skin tones.

When in doubt, shoot often. Odds are that the more you photograph, the more likely you’ll end up with a few fantastic images.

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