Tips for taking memorable photographs this holiday season
It’s no secret that Christmas time is rife with photographic moments, inspiring photographers of all persuasions to come out of the woodwork, looking to capture the scene. Visiting family members, school or church programs, lighted outdoor spectacles, the household decorations and, of course, opening presents all make great occasions for snapping a few frames. While these are all great ideas, taking memorable photographs can be a challenge. However, with some preparation and a few creative ideas, the holiday traditions in your family can be seen in a whole new light.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Most people use some type of digital camera these days, so the first rule of good preparation is to know how to use it. That doesn’t just mean zooming in and out and taking the photo, though. If you use a more complex digital SLR camera, knowing how to adjust the exposure time, the aperture and how to select the right lens is imperative. Standard digital cameras, too, have different light settings for a variety of situations. Are you indoors or out? Is a room well lit or dim? Being acquainted with the camera’s settings and functions eliminates a lot of the guesswork.
Other ways to prepare include scoping out locations for good angles (at church or the school auditorium, for instance) and lighting levels. A photographer who knows what to expect generally stands a better chance of taking higher-quality pictures. It’s prudent, too, to learn the rules for taking photographs during a performance, especially in church.
The next bit of advice may seem obvious, but in the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season, it’s easy to forget: charge your batteries and make sure you have plenty of room on your memory card! You don’t want to miss out on any special moments because your camera dies or your memory card is full.
Without giving a seminar on good photographic composition, there are some simple things you can do to make pictures more visually interesting:
• Turn off the flash – A quick way to give a photo of a Christmas tree an unauthentic quality is to wash it out with the bright light from a flash bulb. Achieve holiday warmth by capturing the natural glow of the tree, hearth or decorated home.
• Fewer poses, more genuine moments – It’s tempting to make every Christmas photo into a well-timed pose, but the magic of the season is most apparent when the subject is unaware they’re being immortalized.
• Take visually interesting shots – There are many ways to do this, but a few include experimenting with new angles, moving the subject off-center and eliminating empty space without focusing on more than one thing.
• Continuous or time-lapse shots – For those with a digital SLR camera, taking a continuous stream of shots may yield an unexpected gem, while a webcam can be used to take time-lapse photographs, capturing a whole day’s worth of sequential activity.
Homemade Christmas Cards
Some households prefer to make their own holiday Christmas cards to send out to family and friends. This can be a fresh change of pace because it gives you the opportunity to use your own props and to be highly creative, especially with the card itself. Cards may be reproduced professionally on one-sided or folding stock, or they can be handmade. Whether you opt for a pre-designed template from a retailer or affix a photo to a one-of-a-kind cross-stitched, hand-painted or patchwork card, the sky is the limit.
Remember, taking memorable holiday photographs is about having fun and celebrating the joy of the season. Stressing out over picture taking isn’t fun for the photographer or the people in the photographs, and it usually doesn’t inspire fond memories. With a little preparation and the willingness to improve the composition and authenticity of your shots, capturing the special moments of the holidays won’t feel forced and your annual traditions will remain fresh.