How to Take Beautiful Family Pictures With Your Phone


One of my favorite fall traditions is taking family pictures! Whether we want to send holiday cards, make gifts for grandparents, or hang up new frames in our home, it’s always exciting to have a current picture of myself, my husband, and our two kids. It used to be challenging to catch a decent moment with all four of us, but now I’ve learned how to use my phone to take beautiful family pictures.

While I appreciate and respect the time and effort that true photographers put into their craft, we don’t always have the budget or flexibility in our schedule to hire a professional. I’m just a mom with a phone, and I’m here to assure you that you can capture quality moments of your family without a ton of time or money. I have an iPhone, my husband has an Android, and I’ve used all these tips with both of our phones!

Where and Wear

The biggest decisions you’ll make are where to take your pictures and what each person should wear. My advice is to do whatever is most comfortable and convenient.

We have lush areas around our home, so we took pictures in our backyard this year. We’ve also had success taking pictures at the West Columbia Riverwalk and on top of a parking structure near The Grand. Open spaces with lots of natural light will look the best on your phone.

It can be tempting to run down to Old Navy and buy matching outfits, but new clothes are not a requirement for great pictures. This year, we chose a pink, magenta theme from the clothing we already owned. Last year, our outfits were mostly burgundy, forest green, and dark denim. And before that, we wore olive green, mustard yellow, and light denim. I’m sure that if you shop your closets, you’ll find complementary outfits, too.

The Golden Hour

If you plan to take pictures outdoors, the best time to do it is about one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. If you take pictures when the sun is too high in the sky, you’ll have to deal with shadows, squinting, and harsh light. During the golden hour(s), there’s enough sun to light your pictures, but it will create softer, more natural images. It takes a little planning to get the timing just right so keep this in mind when preparing your family.

Get a Tripod

If you can’t grab a neighbor or friend to press the button on your phone, my biggest word of advice is to use a tripod with a Bluetooth remote. You can find tons of choices on Amazon for every type of phone. I love our tripod because I can position my phone exactly where I want it and then the remote is so small that you can’t even tell when I’m clicking it.

To get my entire family to look photogenic at the same time, my husband and I don’t ever tell our kids to smile. We just tickle them or tell funny jokes and try to catch their natural reactions. With a tripod and a remote (and plenty of storage space on your phone), you can just click away until you get something that you’re satisfied with.

You should pause every so often to check your pictures and switch up your poses, but the remote will make the process a million times easier.

Take “Live” Pictures

The “live” setting on your phone’s camera can also help ensure that you find good pictures. Maybe there’s one image where everyone looks amazing, except you blinked. If you took a live picture, you can adjust it a split second forward or backward to when your eyes were open.

Use Lightroom

If you aren’t familiar with Adobe Photoshop: Lightroom Editor, it’s a free, easy-to-use app that helps you edit your pictures. You can use Lightroom to crop and resize your pictures as well as adjust the lighting and color. If you aren’t super savvy at editing pictures or just don’t have a ton of time to fiddle around, it even has dozens of presets that allow you to completely transform the look of your picture with one click.

Here are a few different presets I tried:

The thought of editing pictures can sound daunting if you don’t have a lot of experience, but Lightroom is incredibly user-friendly. It can honestly be a lot of fun and any changes made can always be undone.

A Few More Mommy Tips

To help manage your little one’s behavior during your photoshoot, remember to clearly communicate your expectations, keep everyone fed, and celebrate your family’s teamwork when you’re done. We love enjoying a treat together while we swipe through our pictures! You want to capture the happiness and love you all share, not be a ball of stress. Keep it simple and keep it fun!

Have you ever taken family pictures with your phone? How did they come out?


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Tasheena is a California native who moved to Columbia in the Fall of 2018. She has been married to her college sweetheart since 2013 and together they’re raising two feisty little girls. Tasheena has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with a minor degree in Child and Family Science. She worked as a kindergarten teacher until her second daughter was born in 2017 and she transitioned to life as a stay-at-home mom. Although being home full time has its challenges, she loves being her girls’ first teacher and experiencing the world their eyes. Tasheena enjoys yoga, impromptu dance parties, exploring the community, solo trips to the grocery store, and sharing pieces of her life on her blog, The Cinnamon Mom. With so many transplant families in Columbia, she hopes to share a newcomer’s perspective and connect with more mommies in the area!


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