several more photos. All
of this ensures that you’ll
have plenty of options to
choose from later when
editing the photos.
If people complain
about the length of time,
explain to them that
shooting multiple images
is a great way to ensure
that everyone’s efforts
don’t go to waste. Also,
be sure to remind your
subjects to look directly
at the camera lens; some
people have a tendency
to get distracted and stop looking at the camera after a couple of shots.
When and when not to go candid
Not every picture has to be a posed portrait. Capturing simple moments—kids baking cookies, people wrapping gifts, everyone
decorating the house—can make wonderful
photos and give the viewer a better sense of
being there. When doing this kind of photography, it’s best to take a quiet approach and
work with what is there, rather than directing
people; save that for more formal, posed shots.
When to avoid candid shots? At mealtimes—it’s best to put the camera away while
people are eating.
Use the photos
When you’re all done and the holiday is
over, don’t forget about your pictures. First,
get them off your camera card and back
them up. Then, make sure you share, print,
make photo albums and have fun with them.
Good luck! C
Daniel Johnson ( foxhillphoto.com) is a
professional pet photographer and the author
of several animal and photography books.
thing (a shirt, sweater, hair ribbon, etc.) that is
the same color. At the holidays, red is a great
choice. It’s fun, and it can also give the portrait
some additional cohesiveness.
Don’t forget holiday-themed props,
which can be as simple as a couple of wrapped
gifts or another holiday item. The idea with
props is to not go overboard; let them add to,
not overwhelm, your image.
As with all photography, clean, non-dis-tracting backgrounds are a key for creating
excellent holiday images. However, you’ll still
want to create a holiday feeling or theme, and
incorporating things like holiday decorations
or clothing is a great way to get across a subtle
“this is a holiday photo” message while still
keeping the main subjects (your family) as the
stars of the photo.
For instance, you can utilize something
like a Christmas tree, but you don’t need to
show the entire tree—include just enough of
it off to the side or behind your subjects to
give that hint of a holiday theme.
Take enough pictures
Try not to rush your holiday photo ses-
sion. You’re set up for the photo, you’ve found
a nice backdrop, you’ve considered the props
and everybody’s dressed neatly and nicely.
Don’t just take one picture and let everyone go.
Yes, this is exactly what many people expect.
They may think, “You took a picture—hey,
you took two Let’s be done with this.”
Here’s the problem: The more people you
have in your portrait, the more likely it is that
someone blinked, or had an odd expression,
or was talking (some people won’t stop talk-
ing, even when having their picture taken),
or wasn’t looking directly at the camera.
The solution is to take more photos
than you think you’ll need, and then rearrange things. Move Uncle Bob over here;
put little Hunter on the other side of his
mom. Then repeat the process and shoot
props can be
great as long
as you don’t
overdo it. It’s
one prop rather
can help add
MANY HIGHER-END point-and-shoot
cameras and all DSLRs allow you to
adjust the aperture of the lens; these set-
tings are called “f-stops”—e.g., f4, f5.6,
f8, f11. The higher the f-stop, the more
area in the photo is in sharp focus. This
is known as the “depth of field.”
For group family shots of four or
more people, it is important to use a high
f-stop. One good rule of thumb is that
you should use an f-stop equal to or
greater than the number of people in
your picture; for instance, for a group
shot of seven people, you should use an
f-stop no less than f8. It’s also important
to try to keep everyone’s faces roughly
the same distance from the camera; you
don’t want Aunt Lillian standing four or
five feet behind everyone else—she
probably won’t be in sharp focus.
Also, consider natural light. Using a
flash is sometimes necessary in dark conditions but can have a detrimental effect
on the quality of the photo. So experiment
with turning your flash off and use natural light whenever possible, especially if
you’re trying to incorporate things like
Christmas lights into the photo (they
might be overwhelmed by a flash).
If you do need to use a flash, it’s
best to have an external flash unit
that can be pointed upward to bounce
light off the ceiling.
If you’re photographing only one
individual, always focus on the eyes.
If you’re photographing a group, focus
on the eyes of the person nearest the
center of the frame.—DJ
Remember, your pets are part of
the family, too. Include them in your
holiday photo shoot. You never know—
they just might steal the show.
In our digital editions
Click here for more tips on taking
great family holiday photos.
(See page 13 for details.)