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How to Take the Perfect Family Photo in South Walton

Once you’ve found your perfect beach in South Walton, you’ll definitely want to strike a picture-perfect pose. With help from Chandler Williams, South Walton’s 2014 Photographer of the Year and owner of Modus Photography, we’ve listed where, when, and how to take the perfect family photo in South Walton – so that you can create frame-worthy memories while you’re here.

Where: A photo featuring the sugar white sands and turquoise waters is a must-have for any South Walton resident or visitor – and the good news is that the beaches of any of our 16 beach neighborhoods offer stunning scenery.  Try adding colorful props like beach balls, ice cream cones, bicycles, or beach towels to your photo for added fun.

For a less traditional South Walton snapshot, try posing among the whitewashed architecture of Alys Beach or the lush greens in Rosemary Beach. Explore some of South Walton’s beautiful bridges to add a rustic, natural look to your photo – Western Lake’s elegant wooden bridge, Draper Lake’s covered bridge, and WaterSound’s winding pedestrian path all offer visual appeal. “Here in South Walton, we’re surrounded by amazing architecture, landscapes, and natural surroundings,” Chandler says. “Be sure to utilize them all when taking photos.”

Pro tip: “While scheduled family photos are always great to capture, candid and unplanned photos can sometimes be the most memorable,” Chandler says. Keep your camera on you as much as possible – because no matter where you are, the perfect shot might present itself.

When: Perfect sunlight can add richness, depth, and a natural look to your photo. Any professional photographer will tell you that the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset – known as the “golden hours” – will produce the best lighting for your photo.

Have your family members stand facing the sun for the clearest and most shadow-free results. For a more artistic look, try positioning the sunlight to shine on your family’s faces from the side, or have them stand with their backs to the sunlight for a silhouette snapshot.

Pro tip: Even with the perfect lighting, you’ll still need to take plenty of photos to get just the right look. “Even after 15 years of taking pictures, I still take plenty of bad ones,” Chandler admits. The most important thing? “Have fun and be yourself!”

How: One photography tip that nearly all photographers follow is the rule of thirds – that is, to make the main subject of your photo off-center either horizontally or vertically for a more intriguing visual result.  Another good idea is to invest in a tripod, which will help reduce blurriness, and allow all family members to be in a single shot. Light, portable stand-up tripods are great to dig into the sand, and mounted tripods (such as JOBY GripTight tripods) are easy to toss in your beach bag or purse. Lastly, avoid using your camera’s flash if possible. Flashes tend to shed artificial-looking and harsh white light on skin tones for a less natural result.

By using the right settings and getting a great angle, you can make any picture turn out well – whether you’re using a smartphone, a point-and-shoot, or a high-end DSLR camera. 

Smartphones: Before you snap a picture, make sure your phone’s lens is clean of fingerprints and dirt. Avoid using your phone’s digital zoom function, as this will only lower the quality of the photo. Consider downloading a photo-editing app, such as SnapSeed, to give your photos a professional edge. 

Point-and-shoot: Consider investing in a durable, water-resistant point-and-shoot camera like the Olympus Tough or the Sony CyberShot. Because point-and-shoot cameras vary so much among brands and model types, familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings.

“Once you’re on vacation here and have some time to read, don’t be afraid to take your camera manual out with you,” says Chandler. If you’ve mastered the camera well enough to shoot on a manual setting, you should be able to craft the perfect shot. 

DSLR: Set a wide aperture to get a crisp focus on your subjects’ faces, and dial up the exposure to +1 or +2 to adjust for shadows across a person’s face. Increase your ISO to compensate for movement, especially if you’re photographing active kids.

Pro tip: Confidence and a sense of fun are just as important as skill when it comes to photography, says Chandler. “Relax, and remember that it’s only a picture. Soak up ‘the now’!” 

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