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Tips for Taking Great Holiday Photos

By Megan Blusys, Photo by Joe Blusys, Model – Our little Hero

It’s the holidays … which means family, food, and photos! Here are a few tips to make sure you capture your holiday celebrations in all their glory.

Be Prepared

Keep your camera batteries charged (or spare ones on hand) and your camera nearby so you can quickly snap those spontaneous moments.

Use Natural Light When Possible

No one wants to be blinded over and over again by a flash. So, try to use as much natural light as possible. Position people near windows or in well-lit rooms. If it is dark outside, try to flood the room with as much light as you can by turning on lamps.

Take Plenty of Candids

Capture people while they are chatting in the kitchen, opening a gift, snoozing on the couch, or munching on goodies. These tell the story of the holiday.

Use Decorations for Interesting Effects

Christmas lights and other sparkly decorations cast glows and reflections that give interesting splashes of color in a photo. Or, you can include out of focus Christmas lights to give your photo a unique background.

Go Wide to Capture the Full Story

In the midst of the unwrapping frenzy on Christmas morning, take wide shots to capture all the action. Shoot from the floor level, where you can see the demolished wrapping paper, empty boxes and new toys crowded around the kids. Then, take an aerial shot to show the wreckage in all its glory. Be sure to also get pictures with the Christmas tree, stockings and any other holiday decorations.

Get in Close

While you’re taking wide photos, make sure to also zoom in and capture the glee on the kids’ faces. Get close-ups of people throughout the day, too. This crisp, tight framing allows your subject to be the star of the photo.

Get Everyone Together for a Large Group Shot

Posing a large group can be difficult, but don’t worry. Just make it fun. Do some traditional, everyone-is-smiling shots, then some goofy ones. This gets everyone comfortable in front of the camera. Plus, the holiday’s are supposed to be fun! You may be surprised – the fun poses often work out better than the traditional ones.

Also, the best looking photos come from everyone’s eyes being on different levels. Therefore, position people at different heights to get everyone in the photo without looking crowded. (Be sure to avoid the totem pole look, though.) You can use stairs, or have some people sitting while others stand or kneel. This creates more interesting compositions, too. It’s sometimes easiest to pose adults first, then add the kids.

Take Smaller Group Photos, Too

While you’ll want a few pictures with everyone as one big group, be sure to also get some smaller group shots (it’s easier, too). Take some pictures of individual families, or just the spouses or the siblings. Be sure to have everyone’s eyes at different levels in these smaller group shots, as well.

Be Careful with the Backgrounds

When you’re posing people, be sure to look at what’s in the background before snapping the picture. During the holidays, it’s easy to end up shooting pictures in front of backgrounds so cluttered that they’re a distraction.

Shoot Quickly and Often

When it comes to photographs, you can never have too many, but you can have too few. That’s why it is important to take a lot of photos, especially if you are taking group shots or pictures of kids. The more shots you take, the greater your chances of snapping that one image that everyone looks great in. Just don’t drag the process on; otherwise people will get restless. Instead, shoot quickly and shoot often.

Don’t Just Eat the Food, Take Its Picture!

Food is an important part of our family holiday traditions. So it deserves a picture all its own. Take a picture of the dining room table, complete with fancy place settings, the main course, and all the trimmings.

First, take a picture from above so you can include the whole spread. Lock the focus on the near end of the table and the rest of the table will likely stay in focus. (If you focus on the far end of the table, the fuzzy foreground is likely to dominate the picture and you won’t get the result you want.)

Second, get in low and close. Focus on just a few dishes, and the rest will blur a little to give the impression the food goes on forever in front of and behind the scene.

Share the Pictures

It’s no use to take holiday photos if no one ever sees them. Post the pictures you take on Facebook or email them to friends. You can also put together digital albums or get printed copies. Just don’t wait too long to download the photos and make albums, otherwise you run the risk of not doing it at all.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas. We can’t wait to see your holiday photos!

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