Taking and Making Memorable Father's Day Photos

By Tamara Contreras June 10, 2021

This Father's Day, you can create the perfect gift for dad that preserves memories too! Here's how to capture priceless moments, posed or candid, and ideas for special photo gifts.

Keep the camera nearby

I ALWAYS bring this up. Keep the camera near, my dear! I stress this because you’ll beat yourself up if you miss the opportunity to catch your little girl painting daddy’s nails. Or the kids enjoying being pushed on the swing by their granddad. If you don't have accessibility to your point-and-shoot camera, make sure you're ready to quick-draw your cellphone!

To Pose or not to pose, that is the question

You shouldn’t have too much of a problem if your kids are older, but it's usually harder to get little ones to pose, or if they do, they won’t stick to it for very long. There’s fun to be had -- can you blame them? My suggestion is to catch the kids and Dad or Grandpa lost in their own world, where they feel the most comfortable and natural. It can be in your backyard, on the carousel, or as they sit together roasting marshmallows by the campfire. Snap a few pictures this way and every now and then you can try to get an “ok, look at mommy and say cheeeeese” picture in.

If you're looking for a more traditional photo, yes you can dress them up all alike, in similar colors, and plop them on the couch, but I encourage you to get playful with it. (Side note: avoid clothing with text or a logo on it -- it's distracting in a photo. Unless everyone is wearing the same thing, it's a no-no). There are tons of cute and creative things you can do with your family. Does dad like to work on cars? Open the hood of the family car and have your children "help him fix the problem". Find what Dad likes to do, and you’ll see how fun and endearing these photos will come out. If you are curious what other folks have done or need further inspiration, do a quick search on Pinterest. Play with words, for instance, type in “ photoshoot ideas” and let your imagination run wild. There are many professional photos on display which may leave you saying to yourself “Is Tamara out of her mind? I can’t pull that off”. In response I would say to you what I tell my difficult four-year-old daughter when I present a food plate to her which ::gasp:: has vegetables...“Well, have you tried it before?”. Don’t let that small tidbit discourage you. Whether you make your own photo shoot or prefer taking candid shots, it's important to capture the essence of the moment. Make it fun for everyone.

Let emotion show

Get the kids to tickle Dad, and vice versa. Or ask them to do an impression of Grandpa at the dinner table (hopefully it's taken lightly by Gramps!). Yes it's true, try your best to animate your subjects, but don’t tell just part of the story. We love and think we only want happy pictures, but I’ll tell ya, I’ve seen some beautiful photos where real emotion shows. Kids and grownups will eventually reach their tired point, but don’t put the camera away. In my archive of many, many photos, one that comes to mind is when our daughter was about two years old and she found a good ol’ fashion cardboard box to play in. Her father was making her smile for a while, but then she got fed up, for who knows why. I have shots of her all giggling and wiggling around, but my favorite is her with her little tears and pouty mouth holding out her hands for Dad to come pick her up. If you see the kids snuggling up to Grandpa, oh boy, that picture is worth more than you’ll know at the moment. If you see yawning going on, get that action. Those are some funny pictures! 

Lighting could make or break the photo

If you're not a professional photographer, chances are you don’t have super duper lighting equipment. For most of the photos I take, I use natural lighting. When I need an extra kick of light, I hook up the external flash onto my professional SLR camera. If you're using a point-and-shoot camera, play around with what lighting equipment you do have available, and I don’t mean shining flashlights in people’s faces. Early morning and evening provide the best outdoor natural lighting. If it's midday, sunny and bright, try to position your subjects under a shady tree or other shaded area. If you're going to take pictures in the sunlight, make your own hood for your lens by cupping your hand over the top of the lens to avoid sun glare, or as most photographers call it, lens flare. If you're indoors and it's day time, position your subjects near a window to allow natural light to brighten the room. Indoors at night, play around with your lights. It may seem like you're throwing a disco party, but you’ll know when it's right. If the indoor lighting is still too bright, I’ve draped a white cloth over lamps, which helps diffuses the light. With all of these suggestions, take a couple of practice shots before “the real deal” to see if you’ve got the perfect lighting. If you need to use your camera’s flash to help out the situation, go for it.

Pointers for your point-and-shoot

If you know what you're doing and can play with manual settings, you're ahead of the game. Your camera is your friend and it knows you may or may not know how to do that. Stick with the preset modes right on your camera, whether it be Auto or Sports mode (the little running guy icon). Opt to use auto-focus so that’s one less thing you have to concentrate on. If your camera has continuous mode, select that so you can take several shots at once. I don’t really recommend taking these special Father’s Day photos with a cellphone because you have more control of your photo with a point-and-shoot. Especially if a phone call happens to come in and then there goes the moment. Keep an extra memory card on hand since you might get trigger happy and end up using what little space was left on the first card. Last but not least, use the highest photo quality your camera allows. 

Last but not least … gift ideas!

“Meme” it! Do you have an old or new photo you absolutely love of dad? Make your own meme! (Those pictures people post on social media with the funny saying or a wise quote.) It may look like a super complicated process, but trust me, it's not. ‘Tis why there are sooo many out there in the online world. So if you have a photo on your cellphone or on your computer, find an app that allows you to add text to a photo. Post the photo on dad's/grandpa's favorite social media site, or frame it. I’ll leave the clever wording up to you!  

Photo books, cell phone cases, playing cards, mugs … you name it!  
Thanks to photo gift websites, there is a huge selection of presents for Dad that can be made with the photos you take. It’s really impressive what’s out there nowadays. If you order in time, most of these sites offer discount or promo codes. So get to it! If budgets don’t allow for extra spending, get down with your crafty side and make a personalized gift yourself. If all you have is a computer and printer at home, make a cute short story picture book. Priceless! Grab some ideas from Pinterest if need be.

I love this quote by Clarence B. Kelland ... “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it”.

My father teaches me to persevere even in the toughest of times. My daughter’s father shows me that everything will be alright as long as we have each other. My daughter adores the both of them, and I’m extremely thankful. I know your photos will be special, no matter how good or bad you may think your photos come out. The gesture is genuine, made with love, and all about him. What more could a guy ask for? Happy Father’s Day!