Your host family profile will benefit from clear, well-taken pictures that convey how wonderful and unique your family is. This your opportunity to showcase your home and the environment where your international student will be staying.
We encourage you to take your time and enjoy the process when filling out your → host family application. Profiles created with care and intention do not go unnoticed.
So, want your student to feel right at home before they even step foot on U.S. soil? Check out our suggestions below!
Using Your Smartphone Camera Features 📲
Most people these days don’t bother breaking out a pro camera when they have a perfectly good one built into their smartphone, so here a few settings that can take your photos to the next level.
Before you start taking pictures, try a few of these tips to enhance your picture-taking experience:
Turn on grid lines to help line things up
Turn off the flash to keep things from looking too harsh
Hold your phone parallel to floors and walls when taking photos
Take pictures with both hands on the phone to keep it steady
Utilize the autofocus feature
Keep your camera lens clean
Taking Pictures of Your Home 🏠
Set the Stage
The first thing you want to do is clean up your home and get it looking its best. Don’t do anything out of the ordinary. You want your home to look like it always looks, just on the best days.
Declutter any messy areas
Hide away cords, laundry and toys
Close the toilet seat and shower curtain
Make it look inviting → make the bed, set the table, etc.
Use Proper Lighting
Natural lighting is your best friend. Open all your curtains and blinds and turn on all the lights for a nice, brightly lit picture. If you can, choose a nice, sunny day to take your pictures, and try not to rely on the camera’s flash...you want your home to look cheery and welcoming, not harsh and overexposed.
Utilize Landscape Format
Take your pictures by holding your phone or camera sideways, in landscape mode.This is the most common orientation for photos and makes them look more professional. Shoot for the highest resolution possible for clear pictures–both on your phone and on the computer.
Get the Best Angles
When you’re taking pictures of each room, you want to capture as much of the room as possible in one shot. Don’t focus too heavily on any one detail. Instead, stand in a corner or in the doorway of the room for a nice, wide shot. This will make your home feel more spacious and inviting than if you took a bunch of tight, up-close shots.
Focus on Important Features
Highlight the most important features of your home and the things that make it unique. Showcase parts of your home that are special and unique.
Emphasize the Student's Bedroom
Don't forget to show off the bedroom where your international student will be staying! As a host family, this is one of the most important things to have ready and set in your home. This will be your student's personal space, so make sure it's not too over-cluttered with your own belongings or style.
Uploading Photos of Your Life and Family 📸
Students want to learn more about you before potentially moving in—that's the purpose of your homestay profile. We encourage you to be mindful when taking or selecting pictures of you and your family, as this is a special opportunity to make a positive first impression!
How to Select Family Photos
Already have a million photos of yourself and/or your family? Excellent! When scrolling through your camera roll to find the best ones, here are some things to keep in mind:
Choose and upload photos that...
Show your personality
Your student wants to learn more about you! If you're a little goofy, that's awesome. If you're a little more cerebral, we love that too. It's important to choose photos that portray your most authentic self.
Share the things you love
Pictures of you and your family participating in your favorite activities can give students a preview of what life will be like during a homestay placement with you.
Show off your location
Do you live by the beach, in the heart of the city, near a lake, or in the snow? Show us! Wherever you are, it's always a good idea to help your student visualize (and get excited about!) the location of their upcoming journey.
Radiate joy and friendliness
This one is the most important! Genuine smiles will significantly enhance the feel of your host family profile. Joyful, friendly pictures can help your student feel more comfortable and confident before arrival.
How to Take New Pictures
Take Advantage of the Self-Timer
Taking a picture of yourself can be difficult when you’re alone. Thankfully, on most smartphones, you can choose between three and ten-second timers depending on how much time you need to get yourself ready for the photo. Relying on a self-timer gives you the best chance of being in the perfect position when the shutter clicks.
Invest in a Tripod
We’ve all tried to prop our phones up on the most ridiculous things to get the perfect picture (that stack of books just won’t cut it anymore). Tripods put your phone at the perfect height to capture your self-portrait. Plus, they are lightweight and easy to carry around from place to place until you find just the right spot.
Use Natural Lighting
Natural lighting is ideal for portraits. It brightens your face and highlights your facial features while eliminating shadows. Position your camera between yourself and a window to get the best lighting. Or take your pictures outside if you have a nice background to sit yourself in front of.
Try the Front Facing Camera
Most people won’t recommend using the front camera on your smartphone over the rear camera. However, the difference in quality is hardly noticeable and the advantages of the front-facing camera are hard to deny. Being able to see what you’re photographing and how you look before taking a picture will help cut down on the number of reshoots you have to take to get the perfect photo!
Photo Tips for Fams with Kids 🤸🏽♀️
If you have younger children in your home, it can be difficult to convince them to pose for photos for your host family profile. So, here are some quick tips that might help you get something good enough.
Get down on their level to take the picture
Put them in front of a simple background
Take candid pictures of them doing something they love
Let them see your face and make them laugh
Shoot in continuous (or live) mode to have more photo options
Ask them a funny question and take a picture while they answer
Enlist help to stand behind you and draw their attention
Perfectly-Timed Pet Pictures 🐾
Funny enough, most of the tips used to take pictures of young children are the same tips that will work to take good pictures of your pets. But just in case you skipped to this section, we’ll let you know what works best to take a beautiful picture of your furry friend.
Take more personal pictures from just a little bit above their eye level
Make quick eye contact for a special connection and make facial expressions
Use sports/continuous mode to capture moving pets
For pets with dark fur, a light background will help them stand out
Use a bone, treat or squeaky toy to draw their attention to the camera ⭐️
Get them while they're a little sleepy! This will help them sit (somewhat) still
We look forward to seeing these beautiful photos of your home and family in your host family application!
If you already have a host family profile and want to add some new pictures, please feel free to start a chat with us or email the new shots to firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will be happy to update your profile for you.