10 Tips for Better Holiday Photos

The holidays are so wonderful, and it is the time of year when many people are getting engaged or even having their wedding. The beautiful twinkling lights, festive Christmas trees, garland, and candy canes galore also make wonderful backgrounds for holiday photos. Here are 10 tips for better holiday photos that we want to share!

1. Compose Creatively and Move in Close

Getting creative with your photos can never be bad! Pay special attention to how you organize all the various elements you have visible in each photo. Here are 2 concepts that you may love:

Off-center your main subject. Instead of having your main focus in the center of the photo, move the subject off to the side. This looks great if you can balance that subject with another object in the background (think Christmas trees???) A great example that they gave is if you are taking a photo of a candle. Place it on the right with the Christmas tree blurred softly into the background (or anything else that you prefer to use).

Move in close. It is good to move in close when your subject is in the center but also when you are off-center, moving in closely will be one thing that makes a huge difference in your picture-taking success! The fact is that the audience is always more impressed with a subject in a photo that is impossible to miss. So make your subject fill up your frame.

2. For Better Family and Group Portraits

Family Christmas photo with a decorated Christmas tree in nature.

For family and group portraits, you must take plenty of photos. Photographers will find that many people in the group who are taking the photo tend to hate being photographed, so as a photographer, you need to try and make it fun and friendly. Taking as many photos as you can, is important because, with a big group, there is always someone who is blinking or looking the other way, so having many photos to choose from is the best way to catch each and every person at their best!

3. Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

You have to be prepared when you’re trying to capture a wonderful moment. Maybe you are watching a child open a present… if you take time to ask questions, you will not be focused on the subject, and you could miss an amazing shot. You must be ready to take a photo at a moment’s notice!

4. Do Not Use Flash Indoors

The flash can be a lifesaver, but the light from a flash tends to produce harsh, flat, and cold light which is rarely complimentary to the subject you are photographing. Try having your subjects in the photo stand by a window to have a lot of natural light (but do not include the window in your photos as this will throw off your exposure meter). If you are shooting indoors at night time, try and find a room with as much light as possible. Use extra lamps if necessary.

5. Use Flash Outdoors

Happy multi-generation family spending an autumn day on picnic on a hill.

Flash can be a big help when it comes to shooting outdoors during the day. Even in bright sunlight, forcing your flash to fire can often mean the difference between an okay photo and an amazing masterpiece because having a flash outdoors during the day can help to even out harsh contrasts.

6. Look for Reflections

Focus on capturing reflections rather than the object itself is a great way to add that artistic touch to your holiday photos! Interesting splashes of color, like those that reflect from colorful Christmas lights or holiday decorations, may be perfect. If it is a rainy day, a puddle in the street could be great to use.

7. Blur, Swirl, and Zoom the Christmas Lights

Cute Jack Russell Terrier at christmas time bokeh

Most Christmas trees look the same, so why not try something new in your photos to give it that extra magic? Set your camera to a slower shutter speed (anywhere from 1/2 second to 2 or 4 full seconds) and then purposefully move the camera while taking the photo. The intention is to blur the colorful lights… but to blur a stationary subject, you must have a slow shutter speed and controlled camera movement.

8. Give the Gift of a Photo

A family photo is a wonderful and perfect gift idea. Parents and grandparents LOVE family photos, and what is a better time to give them than at Christmastime?

9. Plan Ahead

Just like any other time of year, always make sure your batteries are charged, and you have enough film or space on your flash memory card. You would hate to begin shooting that huge family photo and realize you are not totally prepared!

10. Blue Snow is No Fun!

bride and groom in a winter frost with a snowflow

If you photograph snowy outdoor scenes, most camera meters will be fooled into underexposing the photo. That will leave you with a bluish cast to your snow scene, rather than the beautiful white, bright snow you want.

To overcome this, use your camera’s exposure compensation feature or a manual exposure mode to force an additional 1 to 2 stops of light to reach your film or CCD. If you have a point-and-shoot camera or a compact digicam, your camera may not feature manual exposure, but it will likely have the exposure compensation option.

We hope these tips for better holiday photos have been helpful to you! We hope you each have a very, merry Christmas! Happy photographing!

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