With the holiday season just around the corner, terrific photo opportunities will abound! Whether you use a Smartphone or DSLR, here are four simple techniques you can use to make your Holiday photos stand out.
#1 Get down to eye level with the kids
We're all tempted visit with the adults and catch up with our friends at holiday gatherings, but some of the most cherished photos in future years will be ones of the kids. It’s fun to see them grow and change over time, and when browsing photo collections people often linger on photos of children because of the memories they evoke.
When you have your camera out, try to remember to get on eye level with the little ones! Even though it's difficult to squat down or sit on the floor with a three-year-old, the great shot you get will be well worth the effort! It’s tempting to shoot down at kids from your eye level, but this often results in unflattering pictures that seem cold and distant. Get at the same level as the kids for a much more interesting view of their world. Your photos will be far more personal and memorable.
#2 Adjust the ISO instead of using the flash
When your camera is in Automatic mode, you might notice the flash constantly going off. This can result in washed-out colors and unnatural shadows across people’s faces. But if you disable the flash, your photos will often come out blurry or out of focus. To fix this, you set your camera to Program mode instead of Auto. This will give you more direct control over the ISO setting and get better shots in low-light conditions (like indoor holiday parties) without using the flash. The higher your ISO, the less light your camera needs in order to take a photo. This is nice if you want to avoid blinding people with your flash. (Make sure to practice beforehand so you are comfortable setting the ISO and know the limits of your camera.) If used carefully, adjusting the ISO instead of using the flash can result in much better holiday photos without blinding your guests or having to make with red-eye corrections later on.
#3 Shoot moments, not poses
It might be tempting to run around with your camera at holiday parties barking out orders like “Smile,” “Look here!” and “Say Cheese!” But a better option is to be a little more discreet and attempt to shoot moments instead of poses. Capturing the essence of what people are doing – talking, laughing, opening presents, sharing a drink – often makes for much more interesting photos. There is certainly nothing wrong with posed photos but these often lack context aside from the clothes people have on. What else was happening? Who else was present? What sort of activities were people doing? By shooting pictures of people just being themselves you will capture memories that will strike a chord years in the future.
#4 Know when to put your camera down
This might sound counter-intuitive for the subject on how to get better holiday photos, but as the saying goes, "less is often more." There's a time to shoot pictures and a time to just be with friends and family. Rather than 100 photos of your family opening presents, just take a handful and use the rest of your time to simply be with your loved ones and enjoy your time together. Try to be intentional when taking fewer photos, and the result will be more "keepers" that you'll want to return to in the future.
I hope you enjoy these tips. Until next time, keep shooting!