Get familiar with your camera’s settings now so you’re not fiddling with buttons during Kodak moments. Charge the battery and make room on the memory card. Have it ready to go—it’s easy to forget stuff when you’re juggling 25 presents and the green bean casserole.
You can be proactive if you’re hosting: Make sure there’s sufficient lighting in the room. You might even assign someone to take pictures, just as you asked people to bring dessert and drinks.
Avoid these common picture-taking mistakes:
- Take a lot of pictures, trying the same scene zoomed in and out, and with and without flash. The beauty of digital photography is that you don’t have to worry about wasting film—you can shoot first and keep or delete later. Sometimes chaos is part of the scene. In that case, show the wrapping paper mess around Grandpa as he opens his new laptop. And the background may tell the story, such as a baby gazing up at a decked-out tree. But don’t be afraid to zoom in on your subject and fill the frame.
- For a visually pleasing photo, try to compose the shot so your subject is slightly off-center.
- If your digital camera has a delay after you press the shutter, click the shutter a split second early.
- Let a shy subject get comfortable around you before you start shooting. It helps if the person has something to do, such as rolling out cookie dough or playing with a toy. You’re more likely to get a natural-looking picture.
- Want tree lights, menorah candles or other subtle lighting to glow? You’ll need to turn off your flash—which, of course, means a longer exposure time. To avoid a blurry shot, use a tripod or steady the camera against a table or other surface.
- Don’t use the flash for nighttime pictures of outdoor lights, either: It’ll drown out the lights. Switch to your camera’s nighttime setting and follow the aforementioned tips for a clear picture. Shooting at dusk, before darkness sets in, also can help.
- Learn your camera’s timer feature so you can get everyone together. Position people at different levels (some sitting, some standing) and take plenty of shots to increase the chances of everyones’ eyes being open at the same time.
- party preparations: cooking, decorating, wrapping gifts, setting the table
- the dinner table, Christmas tree and other party areas before and after the gathering
- present-unwrapping, menorah-lighting and other activities (try switching to the “burst” or continuous shooting mode for a photo series)
- close-ups of ornaments, cookies, Hannukah gelt, dreidels, etc. (experiment with the macro mode for details)
- the kids in their holiday finest
- favorite family dishes and the cooks who prepared them
- group photos (how often is the whole gang together?)
- outdoor lights and decor
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