Ana Gambuto

I'm a professional photographer, mom and educator. I help busy parents of young kids take better photos with their iPhones!

It may sound daunting to take your own family group photo, but with a bit of grit, a little gear and these three tips – you can totally do this! If you truly are feeling BLAH about appearing on camera, you can still take a beautiful close-up of your kids to use on the card! (If you’ve recently had a baby, take a gorgeous picture of their face and send out a double-purpose birth announcement/holiday card all-in-one!)

1. Trap the crew – Back your group up against a wall or fence outside, to eliminate little ones running away. Use a tripod to prep your phone, and engage the 10 second timer. Then, if your kids are young, distraction is key!

2. Be ridiculous – Sing songs, tickle the kids and make faces to get the real smile you’re looking for out of these sour faces. Offer ice cream for dinner! Use the Unicorn popper (be sure they’ve never seen it before!) to wow them and focus their attention on this taking-photos thing – now they know it’s going to be interesting!

3. Fire off at least fifty (that’s right, 50 photos) to get the right picture! You can take 50 pictures in less than five minutes. The more you take, the more likely you are to get a winner!

BONUS TIP – If it’s your partner that won’t smile, blurt out a hilarious joke or secret when the time is right, to get their smile to bloom! Ask the kids to look at your partner not at the camera, to disarm them and clear away any initial anxiety. Then yell, “”now look at the phone!”” and secure that real smile, plus eye contact!


This affordable tripod has no bells and whistles, but it'll hold your phone at the perfect angle to take a photo for your holiday card WITH YOU IN IT! Bonus - it comes with a wireless remote trigger!

PHOPIK Phone Tripod 55 inches

A simple, affordable tripod to enable your self-portraits!



I just got this fab little device and I'm obsessed with it! It will fire off tons of photos while following the action as your family moves and plays... nailing that authentic moment easily. So much fun!

Pivo Pod Silver

Upgrade Pick - This automatic phone stand does most of the work for you!



This soft, cozy white blanket is the perfect baby-friendly photo backdrop for your lying-down poses... great for nailing that close up for your card!

Chunky Knit Blanket Chenille Throw

The coziest photo backdrop for a baby or toddler!



Take the shot when the little faces are waiting at attention for the popper to go off! (not later, when they're chasing the ball...)

Hog Wild White Unicorn Popper Toy

Distraction in action!



Babies of all ages (and toddlers!) are drawn to this toy... it makes noise, it moves, it can grab their attention with its bright colors... I always have this on hand at photoshoots, and you should too!

Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center

Irresistible and fool-proof attention-getting!



If your card has room for more than one photo, you'll want one where everyone's smiling at the camera, and one that's more authentic and at ease... showing the kids at play and having fun. Nothing puts kids of all ages at ease more than bubbles! This machine is my favorite, works fast and lasts forever!

Fansteck Bubble Machine

Authentic play-based photos, solved!



TravelChair Slacker Chair

Get the group together! (more easily!)

$24.99   SHOP NOW

Even if you want your picture in a meadow somewhere, you'll need an easy way to get everyone's faces closer together for your group photo. Grab a couple of these and plunk them down anywhere, right across from your tripod!



The perfect gifts for friends and family!

$10   SHOP NOW

Once you have all your adorable photos you can then make these adorable Chatbooks that make killer gifts for the family. Just download the Chatbooks app that automatically links with Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos and Tinybeans.