No 1 – Family Generation Portraits
Include grandparents and grand kids. Find a charming outdoor setting and either use the self timer or ‘rent a friend’ so everyone (including yourself) will be included. Arrange everyone at different levels so no two adjacent heads are in line. Shoot in shade and have the main source of light behind your group.
No 2 – Photographing Christmas Lights
Getting good photos of Christmas street lights involves balancing fading daylight with continuous tungsten (or LED) lights. The trick is find the sweet spot where the ambient light and the Christmas lights balance.
How to Do It:
Arrive early. The best time to shoot is before it gets totally dark.
Compose your photo in such a way as to include as much sky as possible in the background.
Once you get your picture framed, set your camera’s white balance for “tungsten,” as if you were shooting indoors without flash.
Use a tripod or a beanbag to steady your camera. You’ll be shooting in the range of a quarter second to a full second. If shooting with a smartphone or tablet, use both hands to brace it against something solid.
Shoot a test shot every minute or so. Check each shot to watch the Christmas lights appear to “come up” as the ambient light level goes down. Somewhere in between sunset and full dark, the Christmas lights and the ambient light will start to mix. This is what you’re after.
No 3 – Set up a DIY Photo Booth
While you probably can’t afford to hire a photo booth for your Christmas party you can set up an area where you’ll take photos of your family and friends.
You can photograph everyone as they arrive and then leave the camera (a point and shoot) set up on a tripod and set to a short self timer so people can photograph themselves during the rest of the celebrations.
Set up in a well lit position with a red velvet curtain or similarly festive looking background with a few Christmasy decorations around the edges. Leave a few Santa hats and tinsel for people to decorate themselves with.
No 4 – Opening Gifts
There are certain moments during a Christmas gathering that are filled with all manner of photographic opportunities and the opening of gifts is one such time. It is filled with an array of emotions, facial expressions and excitement – especially if you’ve got kids. Switch your camera to burst mode (sometimes called continuous shooting mode) and take lots of shots. You’ll find you end up with some excellent shots when you do this that capture everything from the anticipation of getting the wrapped gift, through to the excitement of unwrapping to the joy of seeing what’s inside. Don’t forget to capture the expressions of those who GIVE the gift as well.
No 5 – Fill the Frame
One of the most common mistakes in Christmas photos (or any photography for that manner) is to end up with your subjects off in the distance on the other side of a room with lots of space around them. Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom or getting up and moving yourself closer. While this is one of the simplest tips, it is one that can have the most impact on your shots.
Christmas Wishes from Jim’s Photography