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The family holiday photo is a popular tradition because it's a nice way to reach out and reconnect with friends and family. But sometimes capturing a single moment of perfect family bliss can be a bit stressful. So we've put together a few pointers to help you sail through your photo taking with your sense of humor, at least, still in tact.

So if professional photography isn't in the
cards this year, no worries. Taking your own
photo is a great opportunity to get creative and capture a "slice of life" shot of your family. The most important ingredient to getting a great photo is planning. Here are some things to think about:

Enlist help: Invite a friend over to help you snap the photo. Having a friend over might help your 'subjects' want to cooperate a bit more and it's helpful if someone not in the photo can run around after speedy pets or toddlers.

Be flexible: Plan two alternate days to take your photo. That way if it's raining or your daughter has the flu, you still have time to get your photo.

Act as the stylist: Think about what you want people to wear ahead of time so that outfits can be bought, cleaned, or coordinated before you photo shoot.

Be a minimalist: You want the kids' cute faces to be the focus, so choose a background with neutral tones, solid colors, or minimal patterns or objects.

Go "au naturel": Opt for natural lighting, like early morning or late afternoon sunlight, because it offers a softer, more pleasing look.

Capture different angles: Snap both horizontal and vertical photos so that you'll have options for orientation if you plan to use the photo to make your holiday card.

Be spontaneous: Keep an open mind and have fun! Some of the best photos ever are candid shots.