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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

In the age of instant gratification and viral images on the Internet, everyone has probably had the pleasure of seeing disastrous family photos posted on social media sites. It seems to happen on a daily basis; you log on to your favorite social media site and someone has tagged a friend’s terrible family photo or uploaded the latest viral sensation of photo fails.

Everyone wants to have good family photos on display in their home to serve as pleasant memories of a happy family, but how can you avoid becoming the disastrous family photo that others mock? The next time you gather the family together for a group photo, follow these tips to assure you get the outcome you are looking for from your family photo.

Use a Tripod

Whether your family is being photographed by a professional or another family member is shooting the photos, The Digital Photography School recommends using a tripod to help slow down the process and create better quality results. Setting up a tripod takes a little extra time, but that time can be used to double check settings on the camera.

More importantly, once subjects are set in position for the picture and the camera is aimed, the photographer can look up from the viewfinder directly at those being photographed to gain a sense of how everyone looks with the human eye.

Positioning is Key

Do you want your family photo to look like morning roll call at a military base or serene photo of a happy family? The manner in which each family member is positioned is critical to the success of your next family photo. Digital Camera World suggests taking steps such as staggering heads, putting people in flattering positions, and allowing children to be children.

Start by staggering the taller and shorter members of the family throughout the frame. If everyone is relatively equal in height, have the women sit on chairs or rocks (if outside) to stagger the height of everyone’s head for a more natural look and feel. Avoid trying to force people to stand rigid or in awkward positions, especially if it doesn’t flatter their figure. How people feel will be reflected in their appearance in the photo.

Lastly, don’t expect children to adopt some silly pose and hold it forever. Get the adults squared away (hopefully they have more patience) and then fit the children naturally into the photo. Let the kids be kids in the picture because their youth and “silliness” will add a sense of innocence to the photo.

Don’t Skimp on Quality

When it comes to the photo that will be hanging in the living room or above the mantel, consider using a higher quality product such as a PureCanvas canvas print. The worst thing you can do for your family photo is put in the effort to get a good shot of the group, and then print it out on standard or sub-par photo paper.

While there is nothing wrong with using high quality photo paper for your print, choosing a canvas print instead adds an extra layer of class to your family photo and makes the family photo look more like art as it hangs on the wall in the future.

Jeremy S is always taking pictures of friends and family. When he’s not behind the lens, he’s blogging about photography on various websites.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who don’t want to be in one of “those” family photos.