Creating Better Family Holiday Photographs

The holidays create terrific photo-ops

Even the most photographically-challenged reach for their camera to create their annual group portrait shot. here are a few tips I use for creating great photos of Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years or any mid-winter holiday. This year, you'll walk away from the upcoming holidays with absolutely more terrific photographs that you've ever captured. ✓

Move in Closer and use Creative Composing

It doesn't matter if you're photographing family, friends or the symbolic holiday subjects, becoming creative with your compositions certainly will help. This means paying particular attention to how each photo's elements are organized.

There are a couple of primary concepts to think about when artistically composing your scene:

    1. Use the Rule of Thirds
    Position your camera so your primary subject appears to one side. This works out particularly well if you are able to balance your primary subject with some other background object, preferably on the opposite side of your photo. For instance, if you are shooting a picturesque candle, try putting it on the left with a decorated Christmas tree (or another supporting subject) softly blurred into the background at the right. This will produce a picture that records both the candle showing all its splendor and does it in a creative, artistic fashion.

    2. Get in close. particularly if your subject is centered
    Although even when you make it off-center, getting in closer is the single thing that can make the most difference with your photographic success. There's a simple fact that viewers are typically more impressed with huge subjects that are difficult to miss. Therefore, fill the frame with your subject. Let s say you are going to photograph the candle refer to above, although you have no Christmas tree (or some other equivalent supporting object) for your background. In this situation, you might think about moving in as near as possible. Causing all of your frame to be overflowing with the candle and will inevitably conclude in a picture which has a total impact upon your viewers.

    Family Table

For Better Family and Group Holiday Portraits

The single most important thing when photographing families and groups is that you absolutely must shoot a lot of images. Often there is a great amount of pressure while photographing groups of people. People typically complain about getting a picture taken and desire the process to be over with quickly. They have experienced not so good portrait photographers in their past and now dislike both the procedure and the results.

Snell Family


Now it's your job to triumph over these obstacles. You must work quickly to accomplish the job within the limitations of their patience. And you must to keep their experience as friendly and fun as feasible, so they think about with a positive thought.

More than both of these objectives, though, you must obtain the most perfect photos possible. And more than any other thing this means shooting a large amount of photos. Since someone is always looking off to one side, blinking or facing some other member in the group, creating a large amount of images will provide you with the best opportunities of photographing everyone appearing their best.

Go Ahead and Shoot, Ask any Questions Later

3. Particularly when your subject's a child just opening their gift
or perhaps playing with their gift for the very first time, as you know from experience that, in just a split second, your scene can drastically change. Often there is only a few brief seconds when that "magic moment" presents itself. The very reason is so imperative to be totally prepared to acquire the moment as it occurs. Naturally this involves having your camera at hand with fully charged batteries. There's no way you can capture that moment if your camera is not hand and good to go.

Although, even more than just having your camera at hand, comes down to being forceful with your photography-taking. Being prepared to push that shutter at the blink of an eye, anticipating when that magic moment will appear. If you have one of those digital cameras that suffers from somewhat of a pause when acquiring a photo, then you will need to become ever more skilled and intuitive at anticipating the magic moment. In any case, shoot swiftly and shoot frequently. Never be shy - obtaining a great photograph at the just the right moment in time is gratifying and well worth any extra effort.

4. Forget about Indoor Flash.
The opposite of Tip 5 is turning the flash off while indoors anytime you can get by without. Flash lighting can be a helpful asset, there's no doubt. A big artificial burst of light might mean the difference from an acceptable image and a totally useless blurry photo.

However, flash unit light - in particular from minuscule camera integrated flash units included on almost every camera - have a tendency to create flat, harsh, and cold light which rarely is a complimentary method of illuminating your subject. Have your subjects stand near a door or window instead of relying upon the flash if you shoot indoors during the daytime. When making your portraits get in between the window and your subject and don't confuse the exposure meter by including the window as part of your composition

When shooting at night indoors, saturate the room in where you are shooting with as much other light as possible, turn on any lamps that may be at hand. This will help diminish over-flashed harsh subjects, along with other problems such as red-eye.

5 Use Flash When Outdoors.
The majority of people believe that making use of flash is tantamount to shooting at night indoors - for example, at a Christmas gathering. Although, flash doesn't need to be consigned to only indoor, night photography. Using flash can also be a big advantage when it comes down to photographing outdoors during the daytime. Even when in bright sunlight, compiling your flash to discharge can often mean a difference between an eye-catching masterpiece and a just so-so snapshot . A bright day kind of flash fills in shadows and evens out harsh contrasts. Don't just take my word for it, try it the next time you're taking photographs of children or friends outdoors, turn on your flash and see how it works out for you.

6. Search for Reflections
One the fastest and simplest ways to lend an artistic feel to your holiday pictures is to focus upon acquiring reflections in place of the object itself. Basically keep your eye out for attention-grabbing spatters of color, reflected by Christmas lights and holiday decorations.

This is a time when those rainy days become your friend - puddles in the streets can turn into a perfect abstract image source - photos which suggest a holiday essence without being explicit or direct. You can also search for interesting shadows along with other graphic components. Or you might include Christmas lights that are out of focus, to present your photo a unique, suggestive background.

7 Swirl, Blur and Zoom Those Holiday Lights
If you're bored with the same old tired Christmas tree pictures, and you'd like to try a new approach, set your camera's shutter to a slower speed - using 1/2 second through 2 or 4 seconds. Then move the camera on purpose while pressing the shutter. The thought here is to purposely blur those colorful Holiday lights... and to make a a stationary subject blurred, you need to use a slow shutter along with controlling camera movement.

Christmas Lights

If you shoot with a SLR camera using a zoom lens, you'll have somewhat more liberty and shutter speed using your zoom. Meaning, you will not require a shutter as slow as those employing compact zoom cameras. Although, you can produce this result with either camera type.

To have the zooming effect appear clean, you will need to securely mount your camera on a tripod preventing it from moving as you zoom both in or out for the duration of the exposure.

Another way to become even more creative, is to simply move the camera about as the camera's shutter is open. To use this method, just leave your tripod home. Yes... I said it... one of those few instances I'll advise not using a tripod.

8. Give a Photograph as a gift
Whether or not you shop at the last minute, here's the absolutely perfect gift idea: a family photo. In particular, parents and grandparents love photos of children and the family as a holiday gift. As this is always such a cherished gift, I'll be suggesting some of the more helpful pointers for acquiring great portraits in upcoming tips. Meanwhile, select a nice frame, and if you use digital, choose a quality inkjet paper and get set to give a present that, if properly done, can bring joyful tears to eyes.

9. Plan Ahead: Clear Cards, Charge Batteries or Buy Film
The very last thing you need to gear up for the holiday photo or family portrait and realize you didn't charge the battery! In addition to ensuring you have charged batteries (or you have extra's on hand), you'll also want to have spare media to record your potential images.

If you shoot with digital, archive and offload your images allowing you to free up memory card space. If you shoot with a conventional, film camera, make sure to have extra rolls of film available.

An additional tip for those generous gift-givers: prior to wrapping up a digital camera or film camera gift, charge the batteries along with inserting the film or memory card . This will assure all the more recipients enjoyment your nice gift - straight from the box! Either way, when you are prepared those once-upon-a-lifetime moments will be that much effortless to acquire.

10. Never Eat Yellow Snow; Never Take Pictures of Blue Snow
When you go out shooting snowy outdoor settings, most camera meters are fooled into making underexpose images. Instead of pleasant, brilliant white snow, a blue cast will add extra cold feel resulting in an unnatural look to your snow scene . To resolve this, use the camera's exposure compensation mode or manual exposure feature to force an additional 1 - 2 stops of additional light to connect with your film or imager.

Snow / trees

If you shoot with a point & shoot camera, it may not have manual exposure although it will most likely have an exposure compensation feature. Look for small +1 or +2 symbols. If you employ a digital SLR or SLR film camera, more than likely your camera will contain +1 & +2 exposure compensation features plus manual exposure mode. Dec 14, 2012

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