1. Christmas Morning photos: Get your camera ready the night before. Very important! If your child(ren) get up at the crack of dawn like mine, you don’t want to be fumbling around at 5am looking for your camera, batteries, lenses, flash, etc. The night before, check your batteries (and flash batteries), select the len(ses) you want to use – think about the room you are in, do you want a wide angle lens, or more of a telephoto? Do you want to use a fixed lens, or a zoom? Do you need your flash? Then put your camera wherever you will be taking pictures on Christmas morning so it’s already there.
2. Tell a story and capture the details: I actually start photographing our Christmas morning photos the evening before. I try to think about how I will put the pictures together to tell a story. What will I want to remember when I look back at these photos 20 years from now? I want to remember how we made cookies for Santa and how my son was so excited to put the cookies out on a plate and carry them up the stairs to set out. I want to remember my husband stuffing his face full of said cookies after the little guy went to bed. I want to remember things like hanging the stocking, setting out a note to santa, reading the Christmas story, etc. You don’t have to go overboard, but just snap 1 or 2 shots of these things as you do them. 20 years from now, you’ll be glad you did.
3. Take the tree picture the night before: If you want a shot of your tree with the presents neatly arranged and the lights on and shining pretty – take it the night before without the kids in the shot. Or after the gift-opening frenzy with the presents already unwrapped. Has anyone tried to make your kids sit still in front of the tree on Christmas morning? If you do – good luck!
4. Get in position: If you want a photo of your children with an expression of pure joy and excitement, position yourself by the tree before they come in and get ready to snap as they enter. We always tell our son to come wake us up first, and then I run in the room where we open presents and grab the camera (it’s all ready to go if you did step #1!) and then my husband turns him loose to come running in. Note to parents – if you are in fact up at 5am and you don’t want your bed-headed, pajama-clad self in the photos, make sure you send your child running in by themselves first and follow after you hear your significant other stop snapping the photos 🙂 That being said, make sure you do get in a couple Christmas morning photos too – it’s only fair that your kids get to enjoy looking back at your bed-head too!
5. Don’t ask for poses: Ever told your kids to sit still, look at the camera, and say cheese? Yeah, we’re all guilty of it. And sometimes we might really want that shot. But 9 times out of 10 – the “cheese” smile you asked for is not the one you really wanted. It’s rare that a child will give you a true photo-worthy glimpse into their personality when you ask for it. Instead, have your camera ready and just observe as they are opening gifts, interacting with a sibling or other parent, etc. and capture those unposed true emotions. And remember that you don’t always have to capture a smile to have a great picture.
6. At get-togethers, photograph the activities, not just the people: How many times have you seen photos of the whole extended family all lined up, staring at the camera, all wearing their “cheese faces”? You know the picture I mean, and it’s not necessarily a bad shot, or one you shouldn’t get, but it just doesn’t tell much about the day. Get that shot, but then don’t put the camera away. Photograph the food preparation, Grandma reading a story to the kids, singing around the piano, the guys watching football – whatever it is that you do at your get-togethers, take a picture of it!
7. Be unobtrusive: We have the camera out alot at our house, so our family has learned to ignore a camera when its pointed at their face, however when staring down the end of your zoom lens, most people will automatically either 1)get their cheese face on, or 2)look away or cover their face. Neither of these typically make for good photos. If you want to capture some good unposed action, break out a short telephoto lens and stay back a bit. People will be more comfortable if you aren’t right up in their face.
These are just a few things I have learned that work for me over the past few Christmases. Do you all take a lot of photos over the holidays? What tips do you have? Please feel free to leave them in the comments section, or head over to my Facebook page and share your tips as well!
Have a great Christmas y’all! Can’t wait to see your photos 🙂