When I look back through photo albums, I’m always horrified with how bad so many of our holiday photos ended up, and wonder why on earth we keep them! Someone always seems to have their eyes closed, we’re all over-exposed, and someone always looks like he was PhotoShopped in, long before there was even such a thing. Now that I’m a semi-pro photographer, and have assisted some marvelous photographers, I’ve learned how to avoid those holiday photo faux-pas. Here are 7 tips for taking great holiday photos!
1. Get down and Get Close
If you’re going to be photographing children or puppies or the tree or anything else that’s closer to the ground than you are, get down. Way down. This will give you the best perspective, and you’ll notice immediately how much better these photos will be. Also, get some close-up shots of small details, like a particular ornament on the tree or your niece’s adorable, pudgy cookie-holding hands.
2. Lighting is Everything
No matter how marvelous and expensive your flash is, you’ll discover that natural light is always the best. Before you line everyone up in front of the tree in the dimly, lit den, look around to see if there’s a spot with better light. Also, if you’re going to photograph everyone outside, then make sure they’re not looking into the light, or everyone will be squinting.
3. No Funky, Loud Patterns
Everyone loves Aunt Betty’s light-up reindeer sweater, and Uncle Tony’s really loud plaid Christmas shirt, but if you’re going to be photographing them together, prepare for a busy-looking result. If you’re going to photograph them in a group, spread them out a little, and pair them with relatives wearing slightly less obnoxious prints and patterns.
4. Keep Groups Small
The photos I dislike the most tend to be the ones with every single person in m entire extended family grouped together and shot from about a mile away. You can’t really see anything in the photo, except how many of us there are. We’re not a hockey team. We don’t need to be all shot together. If possible, take photos of smaller groups, and then take one “everyone all together” photo for posterity.
5. Smush in!
You’re a group of family and friends, so why are you all standing so far apart? Smush together comfortably so the photo’s not loaded with extra space. Trust me.
6. Close Your Eyes and Smile!
Here’s a protip for making sure no-one blinks while you’re snapping your perfect shot. Arrange everyone, have them smile, then have them CLOSE their eyes. Tell them to open their eyes when you get to three, and count down. Amazing!
7. Get the Giggles out
This is especially important if you’re shooting a group with kids. Let them get their sillies out, then take photos, or you’ll end up with a lot of blurry shapes that USED to be posed kids. Also, don’t wait until everyone’s full of turkey (or wine) to start taking photos. Take them at the start of the day, while everyone’s still awake, happy, alert, and minus the gravy stains on their shirts.
Those are the things I’ve learned from the talented photographers I’ve worked for, and following them really makes a BIG difference! Now I have holiday photos I’m happy to share, and I love to look back at them. Do you take dismal or delightful holiday photos? What holiday photo horror stories (or protips) can you share?
Top Photo Credit: kato.elizabeth