Creative. Fun. Bright and Cheery. Angela Marvel is a natural light Pierce County Photographer specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, children, and family photography. Angela Marvel travels to a location of your choice, using natural light and a patient and casual style to capture expressions and personality.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

10 Tips for Better Christmas Photos | 20th Day of Christmas

I posted this last year and thought it would be good to post again. Its pretty basic, but great for those that just want a few extra tips this holiday week :)

Years ago I use to write a scrapbook column for an online scrapbooking website. My column was called "10 tips". I love writing in this format so instead of just photos today I am going to write a column :)

and any of the photos on here are truly basic photos. no fancy editing on any of these, most of these are basically what my camera took that day. As you will read on tip #7, i tend to not take "blow me away" Christmas photos, as I like to just capture the moment rather then trying to make it perfect :)

1. Be ready.
This means the night before. Charge all batteries. Test to make sure your camera works. Load your film. Make sure your memory card is inserted. Download (and then backup) any photos on your memory card so you have plenty of room to take more photos. Etc, etc, etc. Do all of this the night before your event. That way you will make sure to be ready to go at the start of your party or on Christmas morning :)

2. Get in closer.
does this look familiar......
(ok this was actually hard for me to find a photo for! since i always get in close. but i hope you get the idea of what i am saying)
this is what I like to call a "Where's Waldo". Where you are looking for your subjects in the mass of everything else in the photo. And not entirely sure what you should be looking at. Now granted yes some of these are good to set the scene and i will even take a photo of an entire room on Christmas as well. But a lot of people ONLY shoot this way. So just a tip would be if you want a photo of just the people or thing you are interested in, then get closer! especially while they are opening gifts :) (these are straight out of camera no photoshop cropping)

3. Be ready to catch the emotion.

Especially if its a gift that you KNOW is going to get a good reaction. You know like when you found the perfect gift for the perfect person. Be ready camera in hand even up to your eye ready to snap, so you can capture that perfect expresion!
A lot take a photo of the person with their gift...


BUT how about waiting for the reaction and snapping something like this...

4. Take family photos
This is a great time of year to take a photo of family members, especially those you dont see as often. or if you have someone new celebrating for the first time. or just have everyone together.
But don't forget to take photos of the people you see all the time too. The holidays are so many times about family, dont forget to take photos of the people in your life :)

and if you have an entire family together, get a group photo :) I took this using my tripod. It was the first time ever this side of the family did Christmas and we were all there. if you dont have a tripod, I took a family photo in 2003, by setting the cameras self timer and putting the camera on a shelf.


and dont forget to get an immediatly family photo too!

5. Take photos of things other then people.
the host/ess put some time into the day. Whether its the food or the decorations. Take photos of the table, the food, the tree. The gifts before they are opened. Anything that is in the spirit of the holiday :)

6. Take photos of traditions.
anything could be a tradition. dont forget that things you do without thinking every year could be a great photo op. Reading the night before Christmas and even putting the milk and cookies out for santa :)

7. Take snapshots, also known as dont worry about getting it perfect :)
Thus ignore the previous 6 things I wrote! lol ok not entirely.
but seriously, DO NOT get all involved in trying to get perfect christmas photos. I rarely have Christmas photos that would make people drool. I also rarely try to take a Christmas photo the same way I take my portraits. you know why? I care more about just snapping away and perserving the memory for myself and family then if its perfect and artistic :)

8. Do not use Christmas as practice.
(This kinda goes with the above, about it being ok to take snapshots. )
Dont try to learn your camera on Christmas. Don't be fiddling with a new setting on your camera to "try things out". You know how people that cook have the rule "dont try anything new on a holiday", well same goes for photography. Practice on another day. If you dont know your camera, its OK to put it on auto and call it good. You dont want all your photos blurry, underexposed and/or useless. Its better to have a "not what my mind was thinking" then a photo that is totally useless or worse yet, you totally missed the moment because your head was down trying to figure out what button to push and setting to put your camera on. That doesnt mean you cant play of course. Just make sure if its a big moment, that you arent trying something new. Then once you get quite a few shots you are happy with, then of course play around, but i wouldnt try something you have never done before for the moment your kids come down the stairs Christmas morning :)

9. HAND THE CAMERA OVER. I am going to repeat this. HAND THE CAMERA OVER!
[yes dads do this too, but i find most of what i am going to say in this paragraph to be more true with women, if you are a man reading this you may want to skip to number 10;)]
And yes I am yelling. I think the biggest diservice moms do is to not be in the photos. I dont care if you dont think you look your best, if you have gained weight, you didnt get that haircut you wanted, you couldnt find your perfect outfit that makes you look know what? 10 years from now, all of that wont matter. (your perfect outfit would have just been laughed at anyway, same with the hairstyle. lol) 20 years or even 30 or 40 years from now, all your children will care about is that YOU are in the photos. Please do not 20 years from now have your children looking thru photos and can't find any of you. if you notice, about 1/2 of the photos I posted on this post are of ME. And 2 of the last 3 Christmases I was pregnant, and there are still as many photos of me in those years as the others, and trust me in 2006 the photos are not pretty, but they are a beautiful moment captured in time :)

10. dont forgot to have fun and put the camera down and just enjoy yourself :)
Now my family that is reading this is going to say to me on Friday..."ummm didnt you say to put the camera down!" lol
But yes take photos and be ready, get closer, take photos of the surrounding, etc, etc, etc BUT dont forget to enjoy the moment and live IN the moment, not thru it as well :)

So that is my 10 tips for this Holiday Season. I hope you enjoyed it. I actually LOVE writing 10 tips and hope to post some more little articles in the future, I keep saying I am going to, maybe 2011 will be the year :)
tacoma family famlies child photographer baby fife "federal way"


Carol M December 24, 2009 at 4:57 PM  

Excellent tips!

Melissa Butler December 21, 2010 at 1:26 PM  

Thanks for the tips! I'll have to try some of them out this year.

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