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how to take better photos of your family this holiday season

how to take better photos of your family this holiday season

With Thanksgiving and Christmas happening within the next couple of weeks, pictures will be more important than ever. To finally capture the entire family together, the little ones getting to stir the bowl while baking holiday cookies with grandma, those cousins that only come once a year, that special moment of the children frantically running down the stairs to open their surprises from Santa… to help make these moments into lasting memories, here are a few tips for taking better pictures.

1.Find and use the light. The first and most important factor in good photography is the light. Try turning your subject’s face towards the nearest light source, like a lamp or a window. Having the light behind or directly to the side can be done correctly, but is harder to photograph with a great result. As a rule, have the light on the subject’s face.lightsourcephoto

2.Don’t move your hands so quickly before or after pressing the shutter to avoid blurring your photographs. A lot of the time, photographs are blurry because the shutter is pressed and then the camera is immediately moved. Try to hold your camera as still as possible before, during and after the shutter button is being pressed to decrease the amount of blur or camera shake, especially in low lighting situations (nighttime or in a room with just a lamp for light).
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3.Do not put your subject’s back directly in front of a window. This will put the light coming from behind and if you are using automatic settings on your camera, the camera will try to compensate for the large amount of light coming through the window resulting in your subject becoming much too dark. The best thing to do with a window as your light source is to put YOUR back to the window and have the subject turn to the window, providing light on the subject’s face.
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4.Don’t forget that candid photographs are sometimes better than posed. Try to capture those tender moments of joy, laughter and holiday wonderment without interrupting and asking the kiddos to, “say cheese!!!” Try to secretly capture their expression when they open their first present, the pure bliss of that warm gooey chocolate chip cookie straight out of the oven and that sweet kiss on the cheek from grandma that makes them smile so big. These will be the precious moments you’ll want to remember the most, not a forced smile.

5.Raise the quality of your photographs by using the Rule of Thirds to compose your frame. The Rule of Thirds is a powerful compositional technique used by photographers to make more interesting and dynamic photographs that your eye can flow through without stopping. Imagine a grid of three rows and three columns across the frame. To add interest to a photo, try placing your subjects on either of the two vertical grid lines. Having your subject in the middle (between the two grid lines) will usually result in a boring photograph where your eye will focus on what is in the middle and have no where else to go.Here is an example of the subject in the middle of the frame:
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Notice how the subject falls directly between our Rule of Thirds grid lines, creating a dead space to the right of the frame.
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Here is a better composition with the subject falling on one of the vertical grid lines, creating no dead space and allowing your eye to move freely through the photograph.
IMG_8929grid IMG_8929without

6.When photographing children, get on their level. Getting a better perspective on how they see the world will create a more engaging photograph. Photographing down on your child from your level will result in a picture of the top of their head. Try kneeling down or sitting with them to avoid this. Your pictures will look more professional!

7.Change the megapixels in your camera to 2-3 megapixels, 8+ megapixels are great… if you’re printing a billboard. If you’re having trouble with running out of space on your digital camera or your camera not recycling fast enough between photographs, it could be because your megapixel count is too high and your camera is creating files that are way too big, that take forever to process and are unnecessary. For printing 4×6 up to 8×10, what most people usually print, 2-3 megapixels are plenty to produce a quality photograph.

8.Focus on the eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul… so don’t focus on their nose, chest or arms. Try to always focus on the eye closest to the camera. This will ensure a sharp and more professional looking photograph.

9.When photographing outside, do not shoot in the bright sun… find some shade. Placing your subject in the bright sun will most likely cause dark circles under their eyes aka “raccoon eyes.” Also, try to never put your subject in speckled or uneven lighting because your result will be them looking like a Dalmatian. To avoid this, try finding a spot of complete shade to soften and even out the light. Shade is ideal in creating the perfect portraits!

Types of lighting to AVOID:
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These are some of the absolute best tips for anyone wishing to have more professional looking photographs of your family this holiday season… or year round! If you use our tips and tricks for better photos this year, we would love to see your images! Share a few with us… we would be so happy to see your work! We hope every has happy holidays, wonderful Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!!

Warmest wishes,

Lindsay