7 great tips for diy family pictures


DIY family pictures during the holidays can be daunting because they are yet another thing on your growing list of holiday to-dos. However, with a little bit of planning, you can make your family photos look like they were taken by a professional, even if you are taking family pictures yourself! In this article, we will cover the tips we have found most successful when planning DIY Christmas pictures, including the best poses, tools, and equipment you can use, the best time of day to shoot, and so much more. We hope you find these tips to be helpful in guiding you toward a successful family photo shoot.

What a year holiday cards

What a Year! designed by Beth Schneider


The fun part about DIY family pictures is that you can truly make them your own. And, what better way to show off your family’s personality than with a few great poses?

If you plan on using a tripod for your shoot, you want to first make sure that your family is placed in the center of the shot. Watch out for heads and limbs cropped from the view! You will also want to ensure your bodies are close together, to avoid large awkward gaps in the image. When you are all set up, try out a few of these pose options and have some fun taking your family pictures.

1. Focus On The Kids - Capture a picture where you are focusing on your children, and not looking directly at the camera — your family pictures will be guaranteed to exude love.

Holiday card

Noted designed by Jessica Williams

2. Capture A Holiday Tradition - Bring your tripod along for a trip to the Christmas tree farm or another outdoor holiday tradition your family may participate in. Capture the natural holiday spirit and glow on your family’s faces as you find the perfect tree and mount it on top of the car, lace up your skates to go ice skating, or complete a sledding run down your favorite local hill. All of these family holiday activities make for sweet memories to share.

3. Let Your Kids Take The Lead - Allow your children to define their own posed moments — unleash their creativity and play along! Dress them up in some festive Christmas outfits and let them decide what they want to do next in front of the camera. Just be sure to have your camera ready! For additional ideas to land the perfect shot, take a look at our inclusive list of tips for photographing children.

Holiday card

Hand-written holiday designed by Lindsay Stetson Thompson

4. Classic Smiles - Sometimes it’s hard to beat a classic. Opt for a soft smile throughout the entire family and make sure everyone is looking at the camera and engaged in the moment. Experiment with different arrangements of family members to see which formation looks the best.

Kid holding stick outdoors

Charming Holiday designed by Erin Deegan

5. Consider A Candid - Come together for a close shot where your personalities can shine through. In addition to taking some staged and posed photos, try snapping some photos in between poses or engaging naturally with one another. Have fun and capture the candid moments, whether you are looking at the camera or at one another.

Holiday card

Fresh Winter Greens designed by Kristie Kern

6. Share An Intimate Moment - To execute this family photo pose, enjoy a loving look or kiss with your partner while your kids surround their loving parents. It’s a beautiful way to capture an intimate shot. Add some humor to the pose and have dad dress up as Santa while mom sneaks a kiss. Your holiday greeting can play to the lyric “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.”

Holiday card

Nostalgia designed by Carolyn MacLaren

7. Highlight Your Furry Friend - If you have a family pet, let them share in the spotlight. The kids will enjoy this one as well! Some possible poses include hugging your dog, staging them in an opened Christmas present, or holding them in your arms like an infant. We have a full post on holiday photo tips with your pets if you are thinking of going this route.

Holiday card

Chardonnay designed by chocomocacino

8. Shot In Motion - Capture a candid moment of the family in motion as you walk towards the camera, jump in unison, swing your child by their arms, or play catch at the park. Motion provides visual interest and can showcase your little ones’ personalities.

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Fa La La La La La La La La designed by Kellie Yeck

9. Overhead Photos - When taking family pictures always consider different photo angles and points of view. A picture taken from the ground can look much different than one taken from an elevated platform. For a unique perspective of your children, try an overhead photo that focuses on capturing their smiles from directly above.

10. Lounging At Home - Draw attention to some of your family's favorite spots in the home to relax and unwind. Get comfortable in your family's favorite spot and set up the camera for a few shots. Also, if you have moved homes, your holiday card is a perfect time to highlight the move and share a picture of the new stomping grounds!

Father tossing child in air

Our New Home For the Holidays designed by Sara Hicks Malone

11. Walk Hand-In-Hand - Walk hand-in-hand with your child standing in between you and your partner. Walk naturally either towards the camera or away from it, and let the focus be on your child. Another great pose idea is to have your children holding hands with each other, while the parents hold hands next to them.

Holiday cards

Simple Christmas designed by Julia Hall

12. Include Props - Bring props or toys into the mix that your children can play with during the photoshoot. There are plenty of holiday-themed props you could feature such as Santa hats, Christmas ornaments, wreaths, garlands, and nutcrackers. Capture the joy that comes from your children interacting with these toys and props.

Holiday cards

Height of Happiness designed by Carolyn MacLaren

13. Kisses For The Kids - Share a sweet moment, while you and your partner joyfully give a kiss to your kids. The smile on the face will light up the camera. For a slightly different look, have your children kiss their parents on the cheek or each other on the cheek!

Holiday cards

Absolutely Wonderful designed by Wildlife Paper Co.


Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to invest in a shiny new camera in order for your photos to look like they were taken by a professional. Nowadays, the photo capturing capabilities of iPhones and Android phones surpasses that of many digital cameras. Also, due to the increasing popularity of using a smartphone for group photos, companies are now selling tripods and remote controls, specifically for phones.

For your DIY family pictures you can look to Amazon or other retailers for the following types of equipment that will help capture your family’s favorite moments:

  • Smart Phone: Wipe off the lens of your iPhone and Android and enable your phone’s equivalent of “portrait mode” to make your DIY family pictures look like they were taken by a pro. The phone’s feature should beautifully enhance your family’s skin tone as well as blur the backdrop, allowing the full focus to be on you and your family. Further, if you take pictures on your smartphone, you can take advantage of Minted’s Text Us Your Photo service and receive five holiday card recommendations tailored to your family’s pictures!
  • Smartphone tripod with accompanying remote: If you intend to use a phone for taking family pictures but do not want to fuss with a timer, purchase a tripod that comes with a remote. You can enable Bluetooth and snap a picture while you are coordinating your poses with your family.
  • Selfie Stick: If you do not want to invest in a tripod for a single photoshoot, you can opt for purchasing a selfie-stick. Selfie sticks are great because they allow you the flexibility to adjust your angle in real-time and provide different perspectives of your family’s faces. Additionally, they provide a wider view of your family rather than simply using your arm.
  • Digital Camera: If you would prefer to play around with the various functionalities that digital cameras have to offer, take a look at the latest selections by Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm, or Panasonic. Digital cameras can be purchased for beginners for a little over $100.
  • Photo Editing App: You do not necessarily need the entire Adobe creative suite in order to edit your photos. Outside of Photoshop and Lightroom, you can also use phone apps such as Snapseed, VSCO, and Afterlight to color correct and apply any desired filters to enhance your family’s shine.

Alternatively, if you and your family do not have the time to purchase a tripod or a selfie stick, you can also go the old-fashioned route and call a friend and ask for their help in taking your family photos in a socially distanced manner that feels appropriate for all.


Coordinating your own DIY family pictures can be stressful, especially when young children (or pets) are involved. In order to keep things simple, you can choose a spot that is familiar and comfortable for you and your family, both indoors and outdoors.

  • Outdoor Options: If you catch the right hour, you can take photos right outside your house, such as your front porch, backyard, or a nearby park. However, before you find your spot to post up, make sure you’re paying attention to the landscape and ensuring that it is tidy and not too distracting. Look out for branches that may obstruct your family’s faces or loose leaves and pedestrians that may detract from the key subject of the photograph.
Holiday card

Evergreen Variety designed by Alethea and Ruth

  • Indoor Options: If you find that taking family photos outside is too much of a hassle, you can always opt for a place inside your home. Look out for locations within your home that have a clean backdrop, plenty of space, and great lighting. If you find that a clean backdrop is difficult to find, you can get creative and set up a curtain to act as your backdrop. Potential places to set up your family photos can be your bedroom, living room, kitchen, entryway, or dining room. Also consider an area in the house that may be beautifully decorated with holiday decor, such as the Christmas mantel.
Holiday card

Deco Christmas designed by Annie Holmquist


Family pictures can look completely professional with the right lighting. If you want to take great photos outside, or with natural light indoors, you will want to take them during the period referred to as “Golden Hour”. Many photographers refer to this term, but what is it really and how does it help taking family pictures?

Golden Hour is the time of day right before sunrise and, again, right before sunset. The timing and duration of Golden Hour vary based on your geography and the time of year; however, you can track both by doing a simple Google search. Be aware that, although it is called Golden Hour, it may last less than that; therefore, you will want to plan ahead with your family on exactly when the sun will be rising/setting.

Holiday card

Marker script designed by Baumbirdy

The reason Golden Hour is so great for taking family pictures is that, during this time, there is a flattering, warm hue that accentuates the natural glow of your skin and smooths out any blemishes you may have. Also, at the time of Golden Hour, the light will not cast harsh shadows against the contours of your face but, rather, provide a soft dimension with long shadows.

In order to enhance your time during Golden Hour, be mindful of the following tips:

  • Face the sun: It seems counterintuitive but the soft golden light will actually place a warm filter on you and your family’s face, rather than a stark highlight that would occur when the sun is at its highest. Since the light is low and diffused, you and your family will not have an issue with squinting at the camera and will also not have an issue with shiny spots on your faces.
  • Avoid using full flash: If you have a digital camera, you can adjust your settings for a dimmer flash, rather than a full flash. The intent of this lower light flash is to add light to portions of your family photo without overtaking the Golden Hour hue as the primary source of light. If you are using your phone to capture your family photos, you can use a lamp or other item as an alternative light source. You can adjust the light source “settings” by bringing your lamp (or other illuminated items) closer and further away from your family.
Holiday card

Shining Cheers designed by Anastasia Makarova


Before you schedule your photoshoot with your family, pull up a pinboard on Pinterest and create a general holiday aesthetic for your entire family. Feel free to deviate from the norm of having completely matching outfits and instead think about a cohesive color palette, being very mindful to avoid mixing warm and cool tones together. You may also find our detailed post about Christmas outfits inspirational.

A few ideas, color-wise can be:

  • Natural Earth Tones: Deviate from the standard bright red and green; instead, opt for more seasonal earth tones like brown, blush, rust, and pine green.
  • Blue Hues: Express the holiday spirit, seasonally, by wearing light blues and neutrals. These colors will be complementary in the context of outdoor DIY Christmas pictures or holiday photos.
  • Merry Mauve: Combine the warmth of the season with the coolness of the temperature by dressing your family in mauve for your DIY family pictures. Mix these colors with gray, white, and blush for a softer expression of the holiday.

While you are having fun with the color palette, you can also start thinking about the types of textures and patterns you want everyone to wear. Just be aware that, if you incorporate too many different patterns and textures on your family’s clothing, you risk overwhelming the picture and potentially detracting from your family’s faces. To avoid this, here are a few ideas on how to take group photos while also incorporating textures and patterns:

  • Flannel: Although it may be a little cliched, taking family photos in complementary flannel is always heartwarming and fun to play out in the moment. Once your family lands on a color scheme (i.e. red and black vs. green and black vs. red and white) you can all buy your own expression of it. The complementary colors with rich texture will make for a great family photo.
  • Knits: Embrace the warm holiday spirit and bundle up in cozy neutral knits. Think chunky sweaters, thick scarves, and pom pom hats with matching mittens. If you find that the neutral knits are too stark, play around with your seasonal accessories for that pop of color.
  • Gingham: Exude classic vintage styling by donning gingham of various check sizes. Play around with the men of the family wearing gingham ties while the women wear a mixture of dresses and headbands.

Ultimately, you should have fun with your family’s outfits. However, the key on how to take group photos relies on various elements, with outfits just being one aspect of it. If you do not have the time to coordinate outfits or aesthetics, you can simply time your photo session during a family event when you know everyone will be looking their best. The primary goal is to capture this joyous time in your family’s life!


Sometimes the best moments are captured from previous trips and experiences. Take out your iPhone and look through your albums. Look for candid moments of the kids during that latest camping trip, moments of the family enjoying a meal together, or moments celebrating key milestones you experienced as a family in 2021. Using moments from the past year will keep your loved ones informed of what you have done and capture these fond memories in print. If you find a photo from the past that you like, download any of the photo editing apps previously mentioned and enhance them! Once you have your photos enhanced, you can then browse through Minted’s collection of photo holiday card designs that feature more than one picture and show all your favorite photos from the year.

Holiday card

So Much Joy designed by Olivia Raufman


Now that you have taken the time to plan these DIY family pictures, it makes sense to show off your completed photos in numerous ways! Below are some great ways to repurpose your photos for gifts or items to enjoy in your own home:

  • Calendars - Start your calendar on any month, and customize it with your favorite photos from the session.
  • Journals - Customize a notebook as a planner, address book, or 80-page journal and incorporate images onto the front cover to make it your own.
  • Heart Snapshot Mix Photo Gift - Personalize a beautiful heart collage with photos of your loved ones. It can be enjoyed for years to come and will help keep those DIY family pictures alive.
  • Photo Art Gifts - Framed photos are perfect for family gifts throughout the holiday season or may be exactly what you need in your own home.
Holiday card

Editorial notebooks designed by Jennifer Wick