I was struggling through Christmas portraits, but I did not have the Christmas spirit. My boys were young then, between 2 to 10 years old. I thought I would have them take Christmas portraits, but just as I was getting started, one of them got a giggle fit. Then just like a virus it spread. Before I knew it, we had spent way too much time shooting, and I had not one good portrait to show for it.
They continued taking turns giggling and being serious until I decided to get over myself and photograph them in all their goofiness.
Maybe your holiday photography challenges are much simpler than mine. Whatever they are, you will want to capture the best of your holiday traditions and decorations. Here are some tips to help you this season.
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Make shot lists
There is so much to your holiday story. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget the obvious photo you wanted to get. Remember your traditions. Brainstorm all the things that you love about the holidays and plan your photography around them.
Capture prep stages
The most recognizable story structure is beginning, middle, end. Start your photography at the very beginning of the preparation process and document it all the way through to the clean up. This makes for a complete photo story.
Take the holiday portraits before the holiday
You might find the younger family members much more cooperative without the promise of gift opening dancing in their heads.
- Focus on the front eyes of the front person
- Use a tripod, self timer, multiple bursts
- Test your set up before the family arrives
- ISO boost and shutter speed 1/125
- Add light with flash (pop up, external)
Try a time lapse series
If you have an extra camera, this might be a good time to try out that time lapse feature. A series of pictures watching the day unfold could be fun viewing later.
The action is moving quickly, so it is easy to miss the decisive moments. Shoot in continuous mode and use bursts through the action. Get low, eye level or lower. You don’t have to get the entire room in each shot. Focus on the hands as they open the gifts and faces for reaction. Don’t forget the reaction of the gift giver. Look for expression, action and reaction.
After the action is over, take some detail shots of the decorations around the house. Capture the extreme close ups of fun things like decorations and keepsakes.
Images by Flickr CC
This is a great time of year to play with lights.
- Close up portraits and photos with bokeh lights behind are classic.
- Out of focus view of Christmas Tree makes great background.
- Use a long exposure and zoom during the shot for a funky look.
- Now is a good time to experiment with light painting.
- Don’t forget the lights of the neighborhood.
Put the camera down and connect
Tis the season for relationships. Nurture some of them without a camera glued to your face.
Create books, cards, products
This might make everyone forgive you for being the holiday paparazzi.