Holiday Photography Tips: get the best shots at your next family gathering

Holiday Photography

Holiday Photography Tips

The holidays are a wonderful time when family and friends get together and share the joy of the season. And as we’ve all seen on our social media pages, we love posting pictures after a party or a holiday celebration. If you are planning to capture the moments with your camera, I have a few Holiday Photography tips.

Holiday PhotographyCandid Photography 

Thanksgiving and Christmas are when individual families and friends come together as one big family. And when everyone arrives at the host’s house, no doubt people will splinter off into different groups. There’s the kitchen group preparing the meal. The group watching the games on television. and the small kids playing together, and the teens are probably on their phones. So take the pictures like A photojournalist…tell a story. To do this, photograph everyone without staging. This will allow you to capture natural reactions and expressions. And go ahead and take a few “say cheese” moments. You know you want to! Also, a very important thing is NOT to use a flash! The constant explosion of light will be disruptive and people will instinctively pose for you. Remember, we are shooting to capture the real moments.

If you are shooting small children playing with toys, get down on their level. Get on the floor and shoot from there. The pictures of the ones watching football will be pretty boring so plan ahead. Bring a football or soccer ball and challenge them during a commercial break. Once you get a few out in the yard, there’s a good chance others will join.

Holiday PhotographyPosed Photography 

Let’s talk about the standard pose that’s very popular. A full-framed shot of someone two feet from the Christmas tree or fireplace.  Instead of centered full-frame in front of the tree, bring them out 10 or more feet from it. And frame the person for a portrait shot with the person slightly angled in, and to the left or right of the screen. The person will be in focus and the tree with all the lights will be slightly out of focus. And if you’ve got that person that likes to pose, have some fun! The reindeer antlers… Rudolph’s red nose. Or some mistletoe or tree ornaments for earrings. You get the picture! And keep in mind being close to your subject and using a flash can be tricky. The flash can sometimes wash out a persons face. Most of the smartphone cameras will compensate for the amount of light. But if you are using a DSLR, even in the auto setting you can still get harsh light on your subjects. And here is a non-conventional tip. If you are using a built-in flash on a DSLR, you can defuse the light with a single square of toilet paper. Just hold the single ply in front of the flash and it will soften the light.

Holiday PhotographyThe Family Portrait

And finally, the big family group shot. We all know how difficult it can be to get everyone together. But the family group portrait is the picture that will be treasured for generations to come. Plus, it will make a great Christmas present for the parents and grandparents. So here is a suggestion.

First, pick out a location for the portrait. I would suggest a front porch or yard because there won’t be space among the chaos inside. Unless you have a really large house. Also, when looking for a location…and this is important, find a location that’s completely in the shade. You don’t want a lot of squinting or washed out faces from a half sun half shade. Then talk to whoever is the person in each family with the most influence. Usually the mom but in some families, the Dad. And talk with the person who’s hosting the dinner. Get them on board with your plan. And most important, shoot the picture before everyone eats. After dinner people will be tired and full. And this idea can be used for Christmas or Thanksgiving’s mid-day meal.

Now here is the plan…

About 10 minutes before the meal is ready, call everyone to the location for the photo. There will be a few moans and groans but this is when the family matriarch or patriarch come into play. And it might be easier when arranging people if you keep the families together with shortest in the front and the eldest couple (parent, grandparent or great-grandparents) in the middle. And take several pictures. More than likely there will be some with their head turned away. That’s all for now! And when you post your pictures to Facebook or your social media of choice, there is a good chance your friends will want to be on your invite list at your next Holiday gathering!

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