Professional Portrait Photographer Shares How To Recreate Perfect Picture Day Shots At Home

by Angela Andaloro

Let’s take a moment to give props to parents everywhere. Depending on where you live, you’re anywhere from a week to a month into the most challenging new school year of all time.

Parents are trying to help their kids have as normal a school year as possible. Some are trying to do that with remote learning. Others are trying to find some regularity in the new in-person rules.

Still, you can’t shake the feeling that they’re missing out on that carefree childhood feeling. It’s hard for parents, too. We’re missing out on the art projects lining school walls on Meet the Teacher night. For many families, students are also missing out on picture day.

It may seem like something small, but so many families look forward to those pictures. They help connect families, especially at a time like this when it’s harder to see each other in person.

Thankfully, we’ve got some pro tips to help parents recreate picture day at home. It’s another hat parents are putting on without a second thought this year, but thanks to tips from Nikon Ambassador and Professional Portrait Photographer, Audrey Woulard, it doesn’t have to be hard.

Whether you’re in-person or online this school year, chances are things look different. Schools aren’t able to have all the enjoyable activities that foster a feeling of community.

One of those activities is Picture Day. Where it’s possible, schools are doing socially distant, outdoor setups in the early weeks of the school year. Still, many parents will find themselves DIYing Picture Day this year.

LittleThings chatted with Nikon Ambassador and Professional Portrait Photographer Audrey Woulard who reassured us that parents can still create memorable photos at home. You just need to be prepared for what you’re trying to do.

“Parents want to locate a spot at home that has the most natural lighting,” Audrey explained.

four kids sitting on counter laughing

Finding that sweet spot will already give you a major boost in photo quality.

“This will give the parent the best opportunity for well-lit pictures regardless of where their kid(s) are positioned,” Audrey noted.

“Parents want to make sure that the only light in the room is coming from a window and not a lamp.”

Most parents don’t have camera equipment on hand, Audrey recognizes. She shares the best way to capture memorable shots on smartphones and other devices.

“If a parent is going to use a smartphone or tablet the best tip for a picture that has a professional appearance would be to work on angles and composition,” she said.

little girl close up

“Do not take the picture straight on. Kneel down, and angle your smart device slightly upward,” she continued.

“Do not take the picture too far away. Try filling the frame with those cute subjects!”

For parents who are looking to upgrade from a phone or tablet, Audrey suggests the Nikon COOLPIX P950.

“Parents will have a lot more control over the camera, which will give them a better outcome. With fast-moving children, blurry pictures can definitely happen,” Audrey explained.

“The COOLPIX P950 has image stabilization that can help aid in those situations. The good thing about it is you take it out of the box and get started! In auto mode, the camera will determine the proper camera settings according to the light in the area where you’re photographing.”

The fun thing about recreating Picture Day at home is that you don’t have as many restrictions as you would if you were sending your kids in. It gives you the opportunity to get creative in a lot of different ways.

“The great thing about taking your own school pictures at home is that you have time!”

“When taking pictures of children, the number one thing that you really need to have is a child with a good temperament.”

“Sometimes hunger is a factor,” Audrey noted. “Parents are in a great position to offer snacks when kids need a little bit of energy!”

girl outside fall

Some parents are working with really limited options. When deciding between an indoor photo or an outdoor one, Audrey shared some light and space considerations.

“Natural light will also look better than using a lamp from the home. If parents have a room in their home that has great natural light during the day, definitely use that room,” Audrey suggested.

“If the day happens to be cloudy or gloomy outside, then going outdoors will give parents the opportunity to use the most natural light,” she noted.

“Also, a cloudy day provides nice soft light. If it is cloudy outdoors, I would encourage parents to head outdoors to take advantage of the beautiful soft lighting.”

kids jungle gym

Audrey also suggests that for best results, you get your kids involved in the creativity of the process.

“I am a fan of making all photo shoots fun for kids! Parents should already have an idea regarding what they want. So combine your wants with your child’s wants,” she said.

“For example, you can play games with your child such as asking to see how high they can jump! The parent can attempt to capture the child jumping.”

girl outside crown smiling

“You can also incorporate their favorite toy(s) in the shoot. Ask your child to pose their favorite toy for a picture,” she suggested.

“The key here is once you take those images first, then tell your child that you want to get a picture of just them. The child feels involved, and will be happy and willing to give you the pictures you want! Compromise is key for a successful photo shoot with children.”

Audrey knows many parents weren’t prepared to add photographer to the never-ending list of new hats we’ve had to don during this time. Still, she says there’s no need to be nervous.

“Remember, you have time. Don’t rush the process, and remember you have the luxury to stop and revisit if things seem as if they aren’t going your way,” she advised.

“Also remember, you know your child better than any professional. You possess the knowledge about what makes your child happy! Use this to your advantage.”

As the holiday season draws close, it seems like some families will also have to tackle holiday photos on their own. Audrey has tips if you’re considering it.

“The best thing any parent can do when taking holiday photos is timing them well,” Audrey said. “You want to make sure everyone is in an upbeat mood before attempting to capture that great shot. Use props if you want to make the image festive.”

She also gave some tips on capturing the feeling attached to a photo. “Because family pictures are often captured for holiday cards, stay close and upbeat. You want the feeling families have for each other to show in the picture. The result is a beautiful portrait that anyone would be happy to see!”

It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by a project like this, but you don’t have to be. Audrey reminds us that in this instance, time is on our side.

“Patience is key! You have time to take a great picture that you will love.”