First off, I have to warn you:
We are not that family artfully arranged on the beach or stretched out on a vintage heirloom quilt/picnic blanket in a sunny meadow.
I love those sort of dreamy, glossy, photos. But they just aren’t us. I can barely get everyone to school with backpacks loaded and lunches packed most days – let alone to a picnic in a grassy meadow, with good hair and no zits.
Every year I say we are going to figure out a way to schedule a professional family photography session and, somehow, the time keeps on slipping away from me and it doesn’t materialize. Scheduling a time that works for all six of us is like herding cats at the Westminster Kennel Club.
So we make do. When it comes to holiday cards, we are the family that shoots from the hip, literally. They say the best camera is the one you have. Which of course, in my case, means my cell phone.
I’ve become an expert at capturing family photos on the go, using my beloved phones.
You know what? I actually prefer our “au natural” family portraits to more formal portraits because I believe that they capture our family as we really are. Not the magazine version. In fact I blogged about our “Come as You Are” family photos last year.
We love taking our own informal family photos each year to document who we are right now so we can look back on them fondly, laughing about our passing ages and stages.
This year, I have a bunch of additional ideas to share, while there is still plenty of time for you to play. I shot most of these photos in less than an hour, using the amazing camera on my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. There are a few specific apps for Windows Phone that make it even easier than ever to get the perfect family shot. No sweat, no tears, and no breaking the bank on the holiday card this year!
Click through the slide show for inspiration and apps that will make your holiday card photo taking a snap!
Creative Cell Phone Pictures for Holiday Cards 1 of 11
Accessor-eyes 2 of 11
Sunglasses are a fun way to show off your personality. We got out some of our favorite pairs that were left over from a recent party and shot these photos in rapid succession. All of these pictures were shot on my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone and edited online with Pic Monkey. I purposely left space at the top of the image to add a message. I'm thinking "Here's Lookin' at You 2014!"
Body Language 3 of 11
What could be simpler than a spelled-out message using your children's (and/or your own) hands? I simply had the kids place their hands against the tree trunk in front of our house and snapped away with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. I used Pic Stitch for Windows Phone 8 to compose and edit this photo, right on the phone. You might want to wash your kids hands first. I actually like the drawing and not spotless fingers because well... that's who my little boys are right now!
Framed! 4 of 11
For this classic and super easy shot you need an assistant and one prop: a photo frame. I had my husband hold this frame for me and shot with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. I edited the photo on Pic Monkey, blurring the outer edges of the photo and limiting color to one focal area (within the frame).
Blast Off 5 of 11
I've become a little too obsessed with taking "Hadouken" pictures this year. They are pictures (inspired by Japanese street fighter comics) where it appears that one person is using their super powers to "blast" one or more other people. In this case, it's a perfect set up for my oldest daughter and two younger sons. I shot this with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone using the Blink Lens App for Windows Phone 8. This app takes photos in bursts - perfect for getting your best action shots ever. Blink takes a series of pictures and lets you choose the best one. You can also save the series as an animated GIF. I added in some solar rays, sparkle and lens flare with Pic Monkey to create more of a superhero vibe.
Book Worms 6 of 11
This idea is another take on our "Come as You Are" photos that is perfect for a well-read family. All you need is your favorite book of the moment and a couch to all squish onto.
The Mustachioed Men 7 of 11
We Mustache You a Question: Is it Holiday Season Already? Happy Everything to All!
This shot was also done with a Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone and edited in Pic Monkey. All you need is a willing subject, an index finger (or two) and a marker. If you want to do all the editing right on your phone, you can achieve a similar effect with the Phototastic Free App for Windows Phone 8.
Family Mug Shots 8 of 11
I first got this idea from MommyShorts. Admittedly, it's cutest when you mug babies, but it's still cute with my older kids, too, and they really got into it. I see holiday card photo op all over this. Have kids pick out their own mugs and stand against a blank wall or lay down on the floor. It takes a little practice to get the effect right (I'm still learning) but when you do - pow! Kid in a cup! Ten times more potent than caffeine. Why not mug the whole family? These pics were shot on the fly with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone camera.
Comfort and Joy 9 of 11
What's cozier than a big soft bed fort? Wish your friends and family good tidings by taking an undercover (literally) family portrait like this one. Matching pajamas optional. Shot with my Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone.
More Body Language 10 of 11
The sun was setting on the beach and my daughters were skipping in the surf. I used my cell phone to catch this impromptu moment that is now one of my most cherished photos - perfect for a holiday card with its message of love. Capturing silhouettes at sunset is not complicated. Just place your subjects between you and the setting sun, have them strike a pose and shoot!
Come As You Are Right Now 11 of 11
The rules for this family pic are simple. Everyone has 10 minutes to grab their favorite toy/activity/thing, and change into their favorite outfit. We meet in the kitchen - possibly with a bike. Whether it's sports equipment, a Halloween costume, or a life-sized cutout of the Biebs, the idea is to have your kids choose what means the most to them this year. I shot this photo with my cell phone and, almost two years later, I still adore it!