Taking the perfect family selfie

Nat Geo photographer Erika Larsen shows you how to take the ultimate DIY family portrait.

You gather the family to capture the perfect vacation selfie. The result is not pretty. Faces are cut off, random people are in the background, and there’s no telling where the heck you actually are. Who better to help solve the selfie situation than a National Geographic photographer? Erika Larsen has traveled from Peru to Scandanavia to Hawaii photographing people—and that includes selfies with her husband and four-year-old son, Pauhlo. She gives her tips on taking the perfect family selfie.

Light It Up

Head out early in the morning or during sunset, when the light is even. “The key is to avoid having a mix of dark and light in your photo,” Larsen says. If noon is the only time you can gather everyone, look for a shady area to avoid squints.

Keep It Simple

Sure, you want to show where the photo was taken, but who wants to see a giant Eiffel Tower behind your antlike family? “People should be the focus of the family selfie,” Larsen says. Palm trees, stone walls, and interesting building textures are good backdrops. Cars, telephone wires, reflective windows … not so much.

Stretch It Out

Getting everyone in the frame can be challenging— especially with energetic kids. The farther away the camera is from the subject, the more you can include in the shot, so whoever has the longest arms should take the pic. Still struggling to get everyone in the frame? Let the kids jump on a picnic table or rock so everyone is at the same level.

Check out more of Erika Larsen’s work on Instagram, @erikalarsen888.

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