Tips to take an awesome family photo in your own backyard

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- When it comes to taking a family photo for that holiday card, you don't have to drive far to find the right setting.  Valley photographer Christine Johnson says the perfect background could be right in your own backyard.  

Johnson says pick a background that has an interesting texture or detail. Even in an alley, you can find a wooden fence that would make a great background.  You can create your own setting with pieces of wood or a unique blanket or pillow.  

She says lighting is also a key detail.  Don't put your subject in direct sunlight, but find a place that provides great indirect light, like a doorway.  You can crop out the door jams or other details.  For a family shot, put up the garage door and put your subjects in the entryway.  The light will be perfect, and if you keep the focus on the subjects, the details of the background won't be noticeable.  

When it comes to picking what to wear, Johnson advises not focusing too much on matching.

She says to again look for interesting textures and colors. A chunky sweater or a a pretty scarf can work great, but make sure your subjects are dressed for the same season.  One person shouldn't be wearing a tank top if another is in a sweater.

Most importantly, she says to be yourself.  If you're a family that wears jeans or walks around barefoot, don't try to dress up too formally or match if it's not representative of your life and personalities.