Consumer Reports: Taking family photos at home

Posted at 7:40 AM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 08:40:44-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's the time of year folks like to get their family photos taken ahead of the holidays and Christmas cards.

You could hire a professional photographer or you could try snapping the photos yourself. The experts at Consumer Reports say with just a little practice and the right gear, you can take your own beautiful portraits.

When David Leon Morgan isn’t managing social media accounts at his day job, he uses photography as a powerful tool for self-expression and exploration.

"I think I was about fifteen or sixteen when I bought my first secondhand camera. I really was using it as an outlet to explore sort of what Blackness looked like and meant for me,” Morgan said.

Before even picking up his camera, Morgan said in order to capture beautiful portraits, he tries to build a relationship with his subjects.

"The most important tool is really getting to know your subject," Morgan said. "Having this sort of Pandora’s Box of feelings and emotions that can be conveyed on camera.”

But even with that sense of trust, you’ll still need to consider lighting to make your subjects shine.

"If you’re photographing someone with a deeper skin tone you really want to think about the ways in which the light is reflecting on their skin," Morgan said. "Pay attention to if someone has dark hair, so think about where the light is hitting their hair and what you want to capture in your frame."

You’ll also still need proper camera gear.

If you’re looking for portability and swift photo-sharing options, smartphone cameras are the way to go. The Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G and Apple iPhone 12 Pro are at the top of Consumer Reports' smartphone camera ratings.

Look to see if your smartphone has a “Portrait” mode. It will digitally create a shallower depth of field by blurring the background of your image, helping your subject pop more.

If you want to take your photography to the next level, Consumer Reports said Digital SLR cameras that take interchangeable lenses have the most features. The Canon EOS 6D Mark II and the Nikon D 750 are some of Consumer Reports' top-rated SLRs.

As for Morgan, his holiday photography advice is to embrace the holiday cheer.

"Definitely embrace the kitsch, the sweet, all of the things that make the holiday great, because it makes for a really great photo,” Morgan said.

Consumer Reports also suggests that you try to avoid taking your pictures in extreme sunlight, typically in the middle of the day, because that can cause deep, unflattering shadows - and no one wants that in their pictures.

Experts recommend aiming for either overcast days or during what photographers call the “golden hour” which is just after sunrise or just before sunset when the light is most flattering.