This is the eighth in an eight-part series created for the amateur family photographer. These tips are simple, quick things you can do to vastly improve the photos you take.


As the self-designated family photographer you have been faithfully recording your family’s history for years. But are you in any of the photographs? I am quite sure the answer is no as you are most often behind the camera. Perhaps you took on this role because you hate to be photographed. Whatever your reason, you owe it to your family to include yourself. Your children will want to see photographs of you when they are adults looking back. And I think you will want to see yourself as well.


Most often folks get out the camera for only the big events- birthdays, holidays and vacations. But what about the every day, mundane things? I am fully aware that this part of my life is fleeting. My children are 10, 8 and 5 and in just a mere 10 years two of them will be off at college. I want to remember what a typical day was like at every stage. For instance, the other day I was braiding my daughter’s hair. This is something we have been doing since she was a toddler. It takes several hours to do and I know that at some point soon she will have had enough of my hairstyles and will want a professional to do it. So I documented it. I put my camera on a tripod in the far corner of the room and did a panorama. This means I shot the whole room from left to right taking four images to cover the whole length of the room taking extra care to not move the tripod from its position. Then I set the timer and popped into the shot as if I was on hour two of a big hairdo. I used the photomerge tool in Photoshop to “sew” these images together into a wide panorama. I know that when I am an old lady I will be fascinated by images like this- everything from little Leo in the foreground playing with legos to the absolute chaos in our playroom as Amira reads a book while I watch several episodes of The Deadliest Catch.


My camera is nearly always with me, usually hanging on my shoulder. I almost feel naked if I don’t have it with me. So it has been a challenge for me to pass the camera off to someone else. But if I ever want to be included in my own family history I have to relinquish control of it. In this photo I was visiting my relatives in Charlotte. I passed the camera off to my brother-in-law, Luka Lojk. He is not a documentary photographer thus we have a posed photo of all of us flashing peace signs as if we were at some imaginary peace rally in their foyer. But it is probably the only photo in existence of myself, my sister and my two nieces. That makes this photo priceless to me.

At the beach this past summer I started to pass the camera off to my daughter. The rule is that she has to wear the strap around her neck at all times lest she drop it. I set the camera on aperture priority and just let her rip. This image has a ton of white space at the top and mostly features a doorknob but it is the only photo from the whole vacation in which I was pictured. Oh! And it also features the fancy, yarn necklaces my niece Olivia made for me.


Although I take thousands of documentary photos of our life each year I still need a trained eye to create a great portrait of us. I tried many times to do a self-portrait of my family a la tripod but was only met with frustration. So I hire a professional photographer every year to do a family photo of us. This image was taken by my very good friend, Susie Post Rust. There is no way that I could have captured this sweet moment while running back and forth between the tripod. Thanks, Susie!

This concludes the eight-part series How to Better Photograph Your Family! If you missed any of the tips, here they are:

Tip One: Think Inside the Box.

Tip Two: Watch the Light.

Tip Three: Get up. Get Down. Get Moving!

Tip Four: Watch the Background.

Tip Five: Candid Camera.

Tip Six: Natural Light.

Tip Seven: Have a Plan.