A time traditionally set aside for family and feasting, Thanksgiving is one of best holidays for celebrating with loved ones, making memories and capturing awesome family photos.

Thanksgiving photos make Thanksgiving memories

Here are our tips to help you remember the story of your family’s Thanksgiving for years to come.

1. Get ahead of the game

Thanksgiving photo of family laughing

  • Make space on your phone. There’ll be enough to do on the big day itself without frantically trying to clear out your phone storage so you can take hundreds of new photos.
  • If you’re planning on digging out your ‘big camera’ for this special occasion, make sure the batteries are charged, clean your lenses and refresh yourself on some of the settings you might want to use.
  • Scope out the lighting around your house to check the best angles for taking well-lit photos. Natural light from windows is always a winner, so try moving furniture around to make the most of it. But if needed, work out the settings that work best on your camera for low-lighting situations.
  • A bit of planning will help you make the most of photo opportunities, but don’t worry too much if some of your snaps are a bit blurry or dark. You don’t need a technically perfect photo to remember the memory.

2. Record the all-important preparations

Thanksgiving family photo of little boy mashing potatoes
Image by Kevin Gessner

Don’t wait until everyone’s round the table to start snapping. Some of the most memorable Thanksgiving moments happen ‘behind the scenes’ as the epic feast is being prepared. You could capture before-and-after shots of Mom stuffing the turkey and bringing it triumphantly out of the oven what feels like 20 hours later! Or your little cousin trying to help mash the potatoes or Grandma instructing everyone how to make the pumpkin pie. All the mess and laughter will be lovely to look back on when Thanksgiving is over.

Thanksgiving family photo of Grandma and grandaughter
Image by Eden, Janine and Jim

3. Try using a timer or remote

The responsibility for taking photos at big family occasions usually ends up falling to one person. But when you come to reminisce after the event, you often end up asking “Why isn’t Dad in any of the photos?” Because he was taking them! Experiment before the big day with using the timer on your camera or pick up a wireless remote and mini tripod so you can set it up and snap away while still being part of the fun.

4. Embrace the traditional group shot

Traditional Thanksgiving family group shot
Image by mliu92

Ok, ok, so we know we said don’t just focus on taking the one staged group shot for Thanksgiving, but don’t forget to take it either! Whether they’ve flown thousands of miles across the country or only travelled a few blocks, many families don’t gather together like they do at Thanksgiving very often. So, no matter how much everyone might grumble about it, try to persuade all the aunties and uncles and cousins to stand together and do as they’re told for a few minutes. You might have to move people or furniture around to get the best arrangement, but it’ll be worth it when you look back at the photos and see everyone’s smiling faces.

5. Celebrate the feast

Great Thanksgiving meal photo
Image by Selena NBH

Before everyone jumps in to pile their plates high, get some shots of the beautiful meal you’re about to share together. It’s great to record the dishes that your family does in a certain way. Or be reminded of just how huge the turkey was the year you catered for 22 hungry guests!

The perfect Thanksgiving photo of a pecan pie
Image by @joefoodie

6. Don’t forget the bloopers

Thanksgiving rarely goes completely without a hitch. When you get that many people in one place, needing that much organisation, something’s bound to go not quite to plan. Smashed plates, spilled drinks or grumpy Grandads might not seem like something you’d want to remember but as long as everyone’s ok with it, it’ll raise a smile to be reminded of the not-so-perfect moments alongside the triumphs.

learn more about lifecake baby milestone app and record your photos from bump to birth and beyond

7. Get everyone moving

We know that this is so much easier said than done, especially after everyone’s settled down in front of the TV after the biggest meal of the year. So, pick a time that works for your Thanksgiving schedule and introduce some games or activities to get everyone animated. The action shots you’ll capture will be priceless. Lots of families have fun games that are as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and pumpkin pie, but if yours doesn’t yet, this year might be the perfect time to start a new tradition!

8. Capture the contrasts

Photo of a quiet Thanksgiving moment
Image by Charlie Cowins

Even in the midst of the most hectic Thanksgiving, there are moments of calm to be captured and savoured. Great grandma listening to the kids tell her about their latest school project. Sisters who live on opposite sides of the country catching up in the corner of the kitchen. Dad sneaking off to give the dog the extra bits of meat he saved from the table. When you look back on the photo story of the day you’ve created, it’s nice to have the quiet times included too.

9. Hand over to the kids

As long as you don’t mind your kids getting their mucky paws on your tech, letting them take charge of the camera for a while can bring some awesome results. You could give them a scavenger-hunt-style list of photos to snap or just let them loose. Getting the child’s eye view of your family and the Thanksgiving celebrations can be a real eye-opener.

10. See your family grow and change

Image by April Pink

Could you set up a shot or two that you could repeat year on year to provide a wonderful timeline of your changing family? You could line all the kids up on the stairs, get the immediate family – plus any pets – by the fireplace, persuade everyone to wear the same hat every year or something else that’s unique to your family. No matter how you set it up, it’ll be a lovely group of photos to remind you of your family’s unique journey.

Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating life, love and family. And Lifecake is a photo app for remembering and celebrating all of those things too. Discover the easiest, safest way to share photos with family or read more tips about how to capture awesome winter family photos.

learn more about lifecake baby milestone app and record your photos from bump to birth and beyond

Jo Thomas
Jo Thomas

Jo Thomas is a mum, writer and editor from South Wales, UK. Usually to be found reading, writing or running around after her headstrong toddler.