Making memories with DIY portraits

Every year my inlaws request the same exact thing from us: photos of the kids.  And every year that’s what they get. At this point Tiny Prints and I are becoming pretty good friends. And so are the local photographers and I. (The picture below was taken from my friends at Swartz Photography, then I customized it on the TP website and had it printed on a glossy easel)

DIY Photography tips: How to take your own Christmas portraits and have them look professional!

But the reality is that I can’t afford to keep up with sending pictures every holiday and birthday, so I reached out to a local photographer friend of mine to get some tips on you can DIY this year and have your pictures look like the professionals.
Tiny Prints Christmas

So without further ado, I present to you a list compiled from my friend Ashley. You can check her Facebook page here to see more from her, and if you appreciate these tips let her know.

Use a timer

The last thing you want is another selfie!! Use your timer or remote if it’s readily available!!


This can make or break a great family picture! There are certain times to avoid when taking family pictures. There are also times that are best for getting “natural” lighting in your picture.

  • The times to avoid are between 12-3. This is when the sun is at it’s highest causing the most light. This makes it difficult to capture a family photo as everyone is typically squinting from brightness!
  • The best time to capture a family photo is later afternoon, just before dusk if possible.
  • In the spring/summer times I stick with later afternoon or around five.
  • During fall and the times have changed I would stick with no later than four. It gets dark too quickly and then you are forced to add light by using a flash (which you want to avoid)
Photography tips: Making memories with DIY portraits

Here’s a picture that was taken at 4:30 in the afternoon and also in the shade with the light behind my subject.


To me it’s always important to make sure that your background is free of clutter. You don’t want anyone concentrating on what’s behind you, you want people to notice YOU in the picture!

Try something outdoors, in the woods, water in the background.

Do something seasonal:

  • Beautiful leaves in the fall.
  • Flowers in the spring.
  • Snow or Christmas trees in the winter.
  • The Beach or water in the summer.

Photography tips: Making memories with DIY portraits

Take MANY shots

Depending on the size of your family it can be a tough job capturing everyone looking at the camera at the same time and everyone with their eyes open. This is why you take more than one picture!

Don’t be afraid to take 5 or more of the same shot. You never know what you may capture in one of the multiple shots you take! Sometimes those are the best ones because something unplanned could happen!

Photography tips: Making memories with DIY portraits

Be different

The last thing you want is for your family pictures to blend in with everyone elses!! Make a lasting impression  and do that with your photos! Most importantly, have fun!

Photography tips: Making memories with DIY portraits

About our guest…

headshotMy name is Ashley Robinson and I am an on location self-taught photographer. I like to capture anything I can, but my favorite things to photograph are: Nature, Families, Engagements, and Kids.

If you would be interested in allowing me to capture your memories, please feel free to contact me by Facebook or email: I hope that you enjoy looking at my page, and taking a look at how I see things through my camera!

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  1. Heidi Freitas says

    Thanks for the great ideas. My IL’s are the same, but with having a new baby last month, we don’t have the extra money to pay someone professional like we usually do. Might have to work on a new project this weekend. Thanks!

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