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10 Tips on How to Take Holiday Photos

Submitted by on December 21, 2011 – 7:22 amNo Comment

Christmas Family Photos

by Janelle Twyford-Silvis

Here are 10 great tips on how to take holiday photos that will stand the test of time!

1. What’s the point of the photo? Beyond the obvious, why are you taking photos? What do you plan to do with the photos? Will they be displayed on the wall or in a frame? Will they be placed between skillfully crafted scrapbook pages? Are you simply taking photos because it is the holiday and this is something you are supposed to do? If you know where or how you plan to display the photos, it helps determine who should be in the photo and how the subjects in the photo should be placed.

2. Clear the Area! Some of the first things to look for when you prepare to take a photo include electrical cords, light switches, plants, light sconces, etc. Do you want to have a plant coming out of the top of Uncle Fred’s head? What about an electrical outlet next to Aunt Martha’s cheek? Are there flowers growing out of Little Johnny’s ear? Are there electrical chords bunched up on the side of the photo?

3. Focus on Lighting. Lighting is one of the hardest things for any photographer to get right. Should you use a flash? Is natural light enough? Are there shadows on the faces of those in the photo? Is the sun behind your subject? A good rule of thumb is, if there are shadows on your subject; use a flash, even outdoors. A photo of some children playing on a beach under a sun umbrella is a great example. The shade may cause the children’s faces to be too dark. However, using a flash brightens the faces without bathing them with too much light.

4. A trick for managing shadows. What about shadows on one side of the face? If the available light is only on one side of the subject, there may be shadows and a lack of details on the face. A simple trick that many professionals do is to reflect the light back onto the face. Amateurs never fear. You can do this as well. Get a piece of white, gray or silver poster board and place it opposite the light. For example, if the light is shining on the right side of face and the left side of the face is shaded, simply get someone to hold up a poster board on the left side of the face. Aim the board towards the face and watch the details in the face come to life.

5. Where is the sun? Shooting into the sun or into the light can provide dramatic photos but the subject will likely show up as a silhouette. I recently observed a parking lot fun of individuals shooting photos of a steeple being placed onto a church. The problem was that they were shooting directly into the sun. While dramatic, the design and detail of the new steeple was obscured in darkness. However, those of us on the opposite side of the church got all the details in the steeple, plus the faces of the workmen who were in a cage high in the air. When the sun is low in the sky is an ideal time to take outdoor photos.

6. Finding the right perspective. Let’s get back to who you are shooting. Are you shooting down on people who are stretching their necks to look up at you? Are you looking at a group of people with scrunched up necks looking down on you? Best advice is to start at eye level with the subject. Children often look down at toys or whatever is in their hands so get to their eye level or below.

7. Up close and personal. My personal favorite is to get as close as I can to a subject without interrupting their thought or emotion. I want to capture the moment without being part of it. The more obscure I remain the more off-the-cuff interaction I shoot.

8. Always be prepared! If you know you are getting together with friends and family, be ready at all times. Keep you camera charged with extra batteries, memory cards, etc. on hand. I carry memory cards in my purse at all times.

9. Pictures should tell a story. Be on the lookout for a moment in time, a reaction, and anticipate responses. Even a lull in conversation can lead to intimate moments between two or three individuals. A hug, a touch, a tear and even the sharing of secrets can make great photos.

10. Why aren’t you in the picture? Remember, that you want to be part of the holiday as well. Plan ahead. If your plate is going to be full with hosting and entertaining, hire a professional to take photos for you.

Janelle Twyford-Silvis, AlleeOops Photography,, 972-679-5742.


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