Taking family photos at home is a common Christmas pastime for that wonderful yearly Christmas card or family newsletter. Of course, you want to share your wonderful family with everyone. But, sometimes the pictures leave a little to be desired. These tips can help you get the right shot at the right time that you really are proud to show off. * Lighting Is the Most Important – If you’ve ever watched Americas Next Top Model, then you know how important finding the light is. Help your subjects understand where the light is and that they want some of that light in their eyes so that their eyes pop in the photo. * Use a Tripod – This is especially important if you’re going to be in the photo too. You can pre-focus the picture on the other subjects, set the timer, and slide into the shot without worrying about it moving. * Try Manual Focus – While autofocus works great, when it comes to home portraits you may want to try manually focusing on the subjects. This is because once you get into the shot, the camera might get confused and focus in the wrong spot. Refocus when poses change. * Be Goofy – While you do want some serious family photos, let the kids go nuts and act goofy for some of the shots. It will make the experience a lot more pleasurable. * Help Everyone Pose – There is a saying in modeling and that is, “if it bends, bend it.” Do the same to make the photo more interesting. Standing there like sticks will not look good. Figure out and practice poses that make each person look their best. * Choose a Style of Clothing – You don’t want everyone to be matchy-matchy but you do want the colors to go together. It works best if you pay attention to who is going to stand near whom, and make sure the colors don’t clash or blend in together too much. * Stagger the Heads – The best family photos offer a variety of things to look at, which is why most professional photographers stagger the heads. It keeps the photo more interesting and naturally takes advantage of the subject matter. * Get an Assistant – Someone who is not going to be in the shot is always a help, especially if you have small babies. You really want the children to look right at the camera so that their eyes are a main focus in the shot. The assistant can stay with the camera, grab the attention of the kids and give the family something to look at. Taking family pictures should be a relaxed and fun activity that everyone in the family enjoys. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If your family is normally dressed down, stay dressed down. If your family is formal, then be formal. There is no right or wrong way to be unless you’re trying to make everyone become someone they’re not.