Our homes and the streets are lit up and colorful around the holidays like no other time of year. Holiday photos can be the most colorful, joyful and interesting photos when the photographer knows how to best capture the scene. Here are 8 tips for making the most out of every photo opportunity this season:
1. Think like a boy scout and always be prepared. The best photo moments happen when you least expect them. Keep your camera strategically mounted on a tripod when you’re in dim light, keep the space where you’re shooting well-lit (preferably with natural light so open the shades) and your camera properly set and ready to go.
2. Move in closer. Fill your viewfinder with your primary subject, making them at least 50-70% of the entire image and clearly the dominant subject.
3. Try a different angle. Think: Bird, worm, kid – how would a bird see this scene (shoot from above), how would a worm see this scene (lay on the ground and shoot up toward the sky), and finally, how would a kid see this scene (get on your knees and take another look).
4. Think like a spy. When a spy enters the room, he carefully analyzes his surroundings. From corner to corner he scans, mentally documenting the number of people in the room, the number of doors and the number of possible tools that can be used against him. You should do the same only do it through your viewfinder. Scan your scene from corner to corner and remove unwanted clutter – scraps of wrapping paper and empty boxes. Also watch for distracting backgrounds – an arm or leg jutting in from the side, dirty trash cans, and stray toys.
5. Take your subject out of the center. It’s tempting to shoot everything in bullseye fashion. But images are much more interesting when things are off center. Follow the Rule of Thirds, and imagine a tic-tac-toe grid dividing the image in thirds from top to bottom and left to right. Move your focal point so that it rests on or close to one of the four intersections.
6. Take more photos than you think you need. The holidays only come once a year. A missed shot today means another year of waiting for the opportunity again. Give yourself more choices. And when you’re photographing people or pets, you’ll find they become less aware of the camera after a while allowing you to capture spontaneous energy and genuine emotion.
7. Take both horizontal and vertical photos of the same subject. Shoot it as a traditional horizontal then flip your camera on its side for a vertical. You’ll likely find that one works better with your subject than the other and it might just be the one you didn’t expect. If a picture is worth taking, it’s worth taking more than once.
8. Try to capture genuine emotion. Candid shots when family members greet each other, when a child opens a special present or a loved one pops in unexpectedly from out of town are all good opportunities to document the holiday. Set yourself up for success and make sure you’re in the right place at the right time with your camera ready at those moments. They’re the best photos to have.