If you are including family photos in your family cookbook, you probably have a few family members who are delaying your project because they don’t have a photo of themselves. You know the ones; they always look like a scared rabbit with the whites of their eyes showing (or with their eyes half-closed).
You volunteer to take the family cookbook photo you need, and each of them reluctantly agrees. Here are some tips to help make your family photo subjects feel more at ease, and you won’t need any fancy hot-shot photo equipment. For the sake of getting away from that dreaded his/her grammar awkwardness, let’s call your family cookbook photo subject Aunt Clara:
1. Ask Aunt Clara to wear her favorite outfit (not what she thinks she should wear).
2. Have her bring an object that she would feel comfortable holding (such as a book, flower, hat, toy, sweater). Holding something while having a photo taken gives her something else to think about.
3. Take the picture in a familiar part of the house, perhaps in the kitchen or in a favorite easy chair. Maybe outside by the roses, or in the glider on the porch.
4. Have Aunt Clara sit away from a wall, if possible, perhaps on a chair edge, stool or step ladder. (This is more important if she is taller than you).
5. Tell a joke or two (or reveal a funny family secret!) Laughing relaxes the muscles and reduces tension.
6. Before you snap the photo, tell Aunt Clara what you are going to do so she knows what to expect and when. In this step, she should feel you are the “director” in the scene and she is the star, and everything is under control. This builds trust (that you are trying to make her look as good as possible).
7. Take the camera in hand and focus. Now, tell Aunt Clara to move her head down and look at your shoes. That’s right! Your shoes! The absurdity of this crazy situation usually puts anyone off guard and relaxes them enough to cooperate instead of freezing up.
8. Quickly tell her to continue looking at your shoes, and on the count of 3 to move her head up and smile her biggest, brightest smile right at the camera. (Chances are Aunt Clara will let her guard down just long enough for you to capture her real essence).
8. Take a few more photos using this method. One of them is bound to be a winner of Aunt Clara, and good enough to include in your family cookbook’s biography section.
9. This technique can work for a group family photo, too.
One of my cousins so dreaded having her photo taken that she ate multiple antacid tablets the day before. After I took her photo this way, she was no longer camera shy–she turned into a ham!