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The Holidays Are Here!

1. Prepare
Making sure you're ready to capture any planned event is part of the key to a successful shoot. Get yourself ready and scout the location of your shots.

  • Pack the camera - goes without saying?
  • Make sure your batteries are charged and you have extras and/or the recharger packed.
  • Pack extra memory cards- have them empty and ready to fill up.
  • Consider the light in the room that you'll be photographing in.
    Is there enough light?
    Will you need a flash?
    Are the backgrounds too cluttered and distracting?


2. Check Your White Balance
Pay attention to what type of light you're shooting in and set your white balance settings accordingly. Alternatively, if you've got a camera that shoots in RAW you can shoot away and set your white balance later.

3. Set up a DIY Photo Booth
Set up a "portrait zone" of your own where you'll take photos of your guest. Set up a little place where you can ask everyone who came to sit so that you can take a nice shot of them. Then leave the camera set up on a tripod and set to a short self timer so people can photograph themselves during the rest of the party. Use a well lit position with a velvet curtain looking background with a few decorations around the edges.

4. Before and After Shots
Why not set up some before and after shots both of the place you're holding your party and what it looks like afterwards. Make sure you take the shots from the same position. Tell the story with photos.

photo by David Foote

5. Find a Point of Interest - but just per shot
All good shots should have a focal point that holds the attention of those viewing your images. The problem with a Holiday gathering is that there can often be too many competing focal points in shots with people, color, decorations, and food in every shot. Work hard and de-clutter your images.

6. Fresh Group Photos
One of the most common types of shots during the holidays is the "group photo". It's usually taken at the end of the evening or day when everyone is looking their worst. For a "fresher" shot, take it once everyone has arrived. Also think before hand about how you might pose everyone and where you might take the shot.

7. Fill Your Frame
One of the most common mistakes in event photos is that people often end up with shots of their 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.

8. Opening Gifts - Shoot in Continuous Mode
There are certain moments during a Christmas gathering that are filled with all manner of photographic opportunities and the opening of gifts is like no other in that it is filled with an array of emotions, facial expressions and excitement - especially if you've got kids around. Switch your camera to burst mode (sometimes called continuous shooting mode) and take lots of shots at this time of the festivities. You'll find you end up with some excellent series of 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 (or occasionally disappointment) of seeing what's inside. Don't forget to shoot the reactions of those who GIVE the gift as well.

9. Diffuse/Reflect Your Flash
Another common problem with event shots is ending up with shots where the flash is so bright that subjects look like rabbits in a spotlight with harsh shadows behind them. One way around this is to use some sort of flash diffuser or refl ector. If you’re lucky enough to have an external fl ash, try bouncing it off walls or the ceiling. Another way to reduce the impact of your flash and to create some interesting effects is to switch your camera into "night mode" (slow sync mode). This will tell your camera to choose a slower shutter speed but still fire your flash. In doing so it'll capture some of the ambient light of the room as well as freeze your subject. Be warned, you can end up with some wacky shots doing this (but they can also be lots of fun).

photo by David Foote

10. Go Macro
Most digital cameras come with a macro mode so flick to that mode, attach your lens and photograph the smaller things around your party. Ornaments on the tree, table decorations, sweets in the bowl on the table, a nativity scene on the mantle piece, holly above the doorway - sometimes it's these small things around your party that are the real "money shots".

11. Shooting Outdoors at Night
When shooting outdoor lights - you'll get the best results when you shoot at twilight. That way, you'll capture some color in the sky, rather than the pitch-black tone that will be recorded on film later at night. Make sure to pack your tripod to steady the camera. Use a slow curtain flash sync when capturing both a subject and the lights behind the subject. Most cameras have a built in mode specifically designed for this shooting situation.

12. Get Candid
There's nothing wrong with pictures that are posed, but you can create variety by taking candid shots at family and social gatherings. Capture people while they're engaged in conversation or as they're opening a gift. Keep your camera batteries charged up and your camera nearby so you can catch spontaneous moments. Most digital cameras have a Motion or Sports setting that allows you to capture people in motion without blur in the photo. If your camera has shutter priority mode, you can use a higher shutter speed (1/100 to 1/400 seconds) to reduce motion blur.

content provided bt RitzPix Photo Patrol

photos by DAVID FOOTE Layton, Utah





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