First, let me start off by saying I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! The holidays are such vibrant time of year where there are tons of memories to capture, and I can’t thank you enough for your support during 2015.
Knowing that most of us would like to capture our fondest moments with family and friends at our holiday parties and gatherings, I felt that it would be appropriate to share a few of my photography tips for taking remarkable holiday photos. There is nothing more frustrating than looking back at your pictures and seeing 50 posed shots that don’t tell any story whatsoever, so hopefully these tips will let you snap all of those “Kodak” moments.
Tip #1 Adjust Your ISO
If you’re taking photos indoors, I’m guessing you’ll be contending with moody, ambient lighting (like most holiday parties have). Photographing in low light means you are either going to A) have to use your flash setting or B) adjust your ISO. Unfortunately, flash either washes your subject out, adds shadow in weird places, or leaves someone with starry eyes. A better way to capture the moment (and have it look like you were just there) is to adjust your ISO. By setting your ISO to a higher level, it will require less light to photograph the image. So, next time you go to snap a pic turn off the flash and set your camera to program mode, that way you’re able to fiddle with your ISO. However, make sure you practice beforehand, and know the limitations of your camera and what it can do in a low light setting (because you want your photos to turn out wonderfully, rather than looking like you’ve winged it).
See recommended ISO levels in this article here.
Tip #2 Find a Point of Interest
Often at a party or gathering, there is a lot going on and many elements pose as distractions when taking a photo. The best way around this is to take the time to establish your focal point and photograph the image based upon that. Is it a tray of delicious Christmas cupcakes with a blurred background of party festivities? Or could it be grandma and mom sharing a sweet moment cooking in the kitchen? Play with angles, depth of field, and radiant colors that might piece the picture together cohesively.
Tip #3 Photograph Your Surroundings
It’s great to have photos of the family, but sometimes it’s the little details around you that make the memory come to life! Observe the space and look for decor that stands out (for example, a magical Christmas tree); you’d be surprised what you’ll find around the room that can evoke sentimental emotions inside of you. And here’s a bonus, photographing your surroundings helps to tell the story of the evening.
Tip #4 Snap Multiple Photos
It’s disheartening to look back at your photos and see that what could have been your favorite picture, turned out completely blurry. However, if you take a few shots of the same moment, you’re sure to get a photo that turns out! Make sure you have lots of room on your memory card so that you’ll be able to snap a lot of pics (you likely will have 20 pictures that look the same, but it will be worth the perfect shot).
Tip #5 Use Levels
This tip can be applied in multiple ways. You can use it in the context of changing your levels to create a more interesting composition of your photo, or you can apply it to staging that “classic Christmas group shot”. Ask your subjects to sit or stand at different heights to create a more interesting and complex photo (rather than trying to crowd everyone on the couch). Also, while getting everyone into position, don’t be afraid to get close ups of the fuss going on for a funny photo.
Combining these tips will hopefully up your holiday photo game and help you capture moments you’ll cherish as a family forever. However, the best way to create memories that will last a lifetime is to live through them and soak up every minute. So, don’t be afraid to put the camera down after you’ve collected your best shots and just enjoy your evening in good company.
I look forward to hearing from you come the new year and cannot wait to work together. And once more, I wish you the happiest of holidays and a very merry Christmas.