Don’t Forget to Take these 5 Happy Thanksgiving Family Pictures This Year!

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Don’t Forget to Take these 5 Happy Thanksgiving Family Pictures This Year!

Every year, a day or two after Thanksgiving, after we’ve served the food, entertained the family, hugged and kissed the kids and grandkids, and eaten all of the leftovers, I have a moment of sadness.  I look back and take note that I didn’t get enough Thanksgiving family pictures.  I sure do love happy thanksgiving family images.  Every year I wish I had taken more.

You see, for me, all of the responsibilities of hosting the Thanksgiving dinner means it’s the one day of the year that I set my camera aside and miss capturing those moments.  This year I’m determined that it will be different because I don’t want to have that regret after the holiday.

A Thanksgiving Photo Challenge

I welcome you to join me in my Thanksgiving photo challenge.  I will be focusing on capturing five simple photos this year.  And I’ve given myself a list of additional photos that I may look for if I get inspired to take more than these five main shots.  I plan to think ahead so that I can spend less time searching for creativity during the busyness of the day and more time relaxing and enjoying my friends and family.

Related: The Great Big List of Christmas Prompts for Your Christmas Photo Shoots

1 – Dinner Prep

When I look back on years of family Thanksgiving in the past, I always remember my mom cooking up the Thanksgiving turkey.  Then, in the last few minutes’ rush, she would whip up the homemade gravy from the turkey juices before actually serving dinner to all of the extended family that had gathered around. 

That, along with my grandmother’s homemade stuffing, a recipe passed down through the generations, is what Thanksgiving dinner is all about for me.  So, this year I will make a special point to take a picture of someone I love doing something in prep for the day’s events.

Think creatively when you’re taking Thanksgiving family pictures.  Maybe for you, it will be someone setting the table just so, or the person making a toast and offering a holiday greeting or Thanksgiving wishes to the guests.  Maybe even your crazy uncle carrying in the pumpkin pies that he makes every year.  Whatever it is, capture your moment of food prep!

Mom making Thanksgiving gravy

2 – Carving Roasted Turkey – or Ham

Hey!  Maybe you don’t eat turkey for your holiday meal!  Whatever you eat, I bet it’s some traditional meal.  For us, turkey was a staple until a few years ago when our small ham became a large ham, and the turkey got smaller and smaller.  Forget the notion that it wouldn’t be an American Thanksgiving dinner without that turkey crammed full of grandma’s stuffing and mom’s homemade gravy.  We now make ham and salty ham gravy, and I still make the turkey stuffing in a separate dish.

a Man's hands carving the Thanksgiving Turkey

Practicing good self-care around the holidays begins with being mindful. Read Stressed? How to Practice a Mindful Attitude During the Holidays for some inspiration!

When I look back on our annual holiday dinner, I would love to have commemorated the moment of the carving of the turkey in my Thanksgiving family pictures.  Now I get to commemorate the carving of the ham.  The additional bonus is that I get to keep a watchful eye on my husband, so I know if he sneaks a bite of the best part while he carves it.  Win-win!

3 – A Favorite Dish

At our Thanksgiving meal, we have some standard side dishes that we must serve.  This year, I challenge you to take a photo of one of those traditional family dishes creatively and beautifully.  Get low with your camera and take a view from the side.  Be sure and follow the rule of thirds when composing your shot.

Related:  How a Low Angle Shot Can Drastically Improve Your Photo Composition

Or stage your dish in a beautiful serving bowl and take a photo from the top straight down.  Either way, food photography is a great way to bone up on your composition and focus.  After all, it is a stable subject that doesn’t move once you’ve got it right where you want it!  If you’re feeling ambitious, you can take several photos of different dishes until you’ve captured a lovely collection of all of your Thanksgiving dinner family favorites! Don’t forget to try to get one large picture of your Thanksgiving dinner table, set and ready to serve!  And maybe finish the day with a photo of the mess after the meal, too.

A crystal bowl holding a fresh veggie salad for Thanksgiving dinner

Put all of your Thanksgiving pictures to print together with the others on this list, and you’ll have a perfect little holiday memory book to send out to your guests, maybe for a super fun Christmas surprise instead of a card!  I love to use Snapfish for this kind of little project.  They have great prices and great deals after signing up for a free account. Click HERE to check out the Snapfish website.

Related:  The Ultimate Guide to Photographing Big Groups of People

Pink background with "Hip Grandma Merch" available on front

4 – A Group Photo

Of course, a holiday would not be complete without a picture of everyone that’s spending the day with you.  A couple of years ago, I set up the tripod and used the remote to capture my whole family around our dinner table.  It will not win any photography awards, but it sure does commemorate the day and who was there in the room.

When I look at this picture, I remember that this was the first year my son and his bride celebrated Thanksgiving as a married pair, and my parents had not left for their winter down south, so we got to enjoy their company that year, which is a rare and unique thing. 

Some of our favorite old Tupperware pieces are on the table, and although they certainly aren’t works of art, they do bring back memories of dishes I’ve used for years at the holidays.  This picture makes me smile.  Sadly it is a rare photo and one I commit to capturing again this year with those who love us enough to grace our table for the holiday.

Family at Thanksgiving dinner table

If you can’t manage to fit the entire table in your image, you need a wider lens!  I’m only kidding a little here.  You can most definitely add a wide lens to your Christmas List.  But if that doesn’t work today, take the opportunity to step outside and capture a beautiful group photo with a lovely autumn background. After all, we are all thankful for the beauty of nature.

While you’re making your Christmas list, be sure and forward this list to your friends and family: 25 Genius Gift Ideas for the Photographer in Your Life

5 – A Genuine Interaction

This one might require you to take a quiet breath away from the busy chaos of the day.  Find a moment to step aside and watch your family and friends interact.  Even if you are having a quiet Thanksgiving with just a friend or two, make this your opportunity to capture a moment of connection. 

Maybe it’s a happy moment, or perhaps it’s a poignant moment in remembrance of someone missing at this year’s table. Maybe you can sneak a photo of someone holding hands or embracing.  These are the moments that make the memories. An image like this can become more than just a snapshot but a tangible reminder of the day’s feelings.

a father and son making funny faces at one another in black and white

Once you’ve completed these five primary challenges, you might find that you’re in the photo groove and ready to conquer some extra shots to fill out that Thanksgiving mini-album.  So as a bonus today, enjoy this list of 25 photos you MUST take on Thanksgiving Day!  Clip this handy card out and keep it nearby on Thanksgiving day, so you don’t miss a moment!

a list of Thanksgiving Family Pictures

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a father and daughter serving a Thanksgiving family dinner in a thanksgiving family picture

2 thoughts on “Don’t Forget to Take these 5 Happy Thanksgiving Family Pictures This Year!”

  1. I am the worst at capturing photos too! We are in Canada so celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. The only photo I captured was during prep before all the fun began. Each year I say I am going to do better and I always remember too late. Thanks for posting this reminder, here’s to trying to do better at Christmas!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one! I find that if I give myself permission to take just a few photos and not capture every single moment, I at least get a few. I get almost none on Christmas. It’s really deplorable that I’m the photographer and I barely touch my camera on Christmas day.


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