Christmas lives on, in your photos
for all the special events and signs of the season. Keep
your battery charged up (or have spares on hand) and have an
extra memory card. And take the camera with you – how many
times have you kicked yourself when a Kodak moment came
along and the camera was at home?
Make your list and check it twice: Take a few moments right
now and think of the photo ops you’ll have during the
season. From shopping for the right gift, to trimming the
tree, to opening the presents (wrapping them, too). Lots of
great moments in the kitchen, because even those who rarely
cook will be making cookies and cooking traditional fare.
What’s traditional varies from home to home, of course –
I’ve already had roast turkey and pulled pork barbecue this
Inside or out?
Flash can be harsh, but there’s a world of beauty out of
Direct sunshine can also be harsh, so look for open shade to
bring out the soft colors and flatter faces. While you’re
doing this make sure that the lighting on everyone’s face is
about the same intensity, you don’t want shadows on one face
and direct sun on another.
If the sun is harsh,
turn your subjects away from the sun
and use your camera’s flash to fill in the shadows.
When it comes to the background, often
less is more.
That is, too much background diverts attention from the
people. Stand farther away, use your zoom lens to fill the
frame with the people and throw the background a little out
of focus. And look past the subjects to the background – a
telephone pole growing out of your loved one’s head is not
the perfect Christmas trim!
Taking photos of short people (kids?)
Get down on their level,
or use the rotating monitor on many new cameras to shoot low
while saving your knees and back. Photos from standing eye
level can be a little boring, I sometimes use a ladder to
shoot from on high.
Got a big group?
Get the formal shots of the whole bunch out of the way first,
then break out the smaller sections. I’d suggest getting the
youngest kids early before they lose interest.
Posing – let’s have fun. Sure, the kids will want to line up
in a row and shout “cheese” but after you’ve done that,
encourage them to relax and interact.
Better photos of ornaments:
A simple example is the lighted Christmas tree. You’ve got
three ways to photograph it:
Use the flash. You’ll see the tree, but not the lights.
Put the camera on a tripod and take a time exposure. Now
you’ll see the lights, but the tree itself and
non-illuminated decorations will be very dark. But
you’ll capture that warm glow of candles and tree
Leave the camera on the tripod and use the night
portrait or night scene mode. This combines a time
exposure, so the lights are seen, with a flash exposure
to fill in the details. There’s probably an icon on the
camera that looks like a person and a crescent moon, or
a moon and starts. If you can’t find this mode, come to
the store and we’ll show you.
If you’re feeling more adventuresome, use a manual mode and
try several different shutter speeds and lens openings ‘til
you get exactly the effect you want.
Film is cheap and digital memory is absolutely free, so take
lots of photos. Instead of trying for one perfect photo,
take a sequence that will tell a story. We have seen some
great collage prints and greeting cards so far this year,
and you can even order multiple-print products on our
The story is in the details – lots of close-ups make your
Christmas story complete.
Show them that the gift was received
And now is a good time to teach the kids that gifts need to
be acknowledged. Take a photo showing the gifts being
unwrapped and the joy on the face of the recipient; make a
truly one-of-a-kind card that says “Thanks.”
When all else fails, use your cell phone.
Sure, the results will be better with a “real” camera, but
maybe you’ve just got the cell phone with you. Here are some
tips for better pix with the phone:
Clean the lens with your handkerchief
Get really close – cell phones work best for close-ups
because the details get lost. Some cell phones have an
LED light they call a flash, but it’s only good for a
foot or two.
Hold it extra steady – the grip is not good.
Set your phone to take the best quality photos it’s
capable of (there’s a menu someplace) and use a memory
card to store the photos.
Resolve not to get caught again without your “real