Get familiar with your cameras settings now so youre not fiddling with buttons during Kodak moments. Charge the battery and make room on the memory card. Have it ready to goits easy to forget stuff when youre juggling 25 presents and the green bean casserole.
You can be proactive if youre hosting: Make sure theres 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 dont have to worry about wasting filmyou 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 dont 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. Youre more likely to get a natural-looking picture.
- Want tree lights, menorah candles or other subtle lighting to glow? Youll need to turn off your flashwhich, 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.
- Dont use the flash for nighttime pictures of outdoor lights, either: Itll drown out the lights. Switch to your cameras nighttime setting and follow the aforementioned tips for a clear picture. Shooting at dusk, before darkness sets in, also can help.
- Learn your cameras 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
From the January 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine
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