10 Tips on How To Capture the Holidays
The one thing I loathe most about the holidays is that one group holiday photo. You know the one, where everyone dresses in their holiday-themed attire all bunched together on the staircase, staging a smile while the photographer scrambles to his spot, while the timer ticks away faster and faster until "flash" – the moment is captured. Someone always forgets to smile or closes their eyes so you have re-take the picture again and again until someone lays down the rules and announces "This is the last shot."
The magic of the season is lost by the forced smiles and staged positioning, it would be great to capture all those special moments of the holidays. Sit back with your camera in hand and capture your children’s expressions as they open up their presents, or capture a shot of grandma as she breathes in the aroma of those fresh-baked cookies or how about dad sampling the turkey as he carves it.
Check out these tips from Erin Manning, a professional photographer, teacher and author, on how to capture the holiday spirit in your photographs.
No power means no pictures, so be prepared and charge your camera batteries ahead of time. Have one extra battery with you at all times and don’t forget to bring an extra memory card too.
Change your point of view.
If you’re photographing kids, get down on their level, and zoom in to fill the frame and capture their personality.
Keep it real.
You don’t need to say "cheese" to take a good picture, be encouraging and positive. Get people to laugh with you or give them something to do, and you’ll capture more natural expressions.
Don’t forget the details.
At the holidays, it’s the little things that count. Use your camera’s Macro Mode to get up close and capture the moment.
Our world is full of reflective surfaces, especially during the holidays – shiny ornaments, mirrors, windows, and water, are a few. Look around and see if you can find a unique way to reflect your world. This technique works best if you turn off your flash.
Control your flash.
The warm glow of lamps, candles, and outdoor lights are often blasted into darkness with a camera flash. Here are two ways to remedy the problem:
• Turn off your flash and raise your ISO to let in more light and reduce blur.
• Use your camera’s Night Flash or Slow Synch setting to illuminate your scene. This setting uses a slower shutter speed to capture more ambient light in the background. Hold the camera very still or use a tripod to reduce blur.
Take charge and do a little directing to gather everyone together and capture that group shot. Position your subjects in an overall shape, with some people sitting, some people standing, and in a variation of body angles towards the camera. Take multiple shots to ensure that everyone’s eyes are open in the final picture.
Pay attention to the background, you don’t want plants coming out of people’s ears or lamps coming out of their heads. You can choose something holiday related, but think “less is more.”
Capture the action.
When an emotion or reaction occurs, capture every second by using the Sports Mode setting on your camera. Some cameras allow you to hold your finger down on the shutter button to capture multiple frames in quick succession.
Compose your shot.
Create a visually interesting photograph by moving your subject off-center and use the "rule of thirds." Visually divide your scene into thirds like a tic-tac-toe board and place something of interest at one or more of the intersections.
Erin Manning is a professional photographer, teacher and television personality living in Los Angeles, California. Television viewers know Erin best as the digital photography expert and host of DIY Network’s Telly-award-winning TV series The Whole Picture. She has also appeared as the techno-lifestyle guru on Enable Your Home and is author of Portrait and Candid Photography, published by Wiley. She helps people understand photography and technology by translating technical mumbo-jumbo into everyday words and by facilitating their learning with a clear, friendly teaching style. For more information about Erin Manning at www.erinmanning.com
*All photos are courtesy of Erin Manning.