Tips for Capturing Holiday Magic with Photos

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Tips For Capturing Holiday Magic With Photos

The holidays are full of enjoyable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From watching your child unbox his or her first-ever bicycle to getting four generations of your family together around the same dinner table, there are many magical moments that you will likely want to treasure for the rest of your life. Taking photographs has never been an easier or more affordable way to memorialize those precious moments with the people you love.

You no longer have to buy film, remember your camera, or pay to develop your prints. These days, it is possible to take incredible quality photographs with your cell phone, depending on the kind of camera your phone has. Regardless of whether you are using a phone or a handheld digital camera, there are certain tips and tricks to be aware of when saving those family holiday memories for posterity.

Composition is key

Other than the quality of the camera and the editing skills, what separates an amateur photographer from a professional is often the ability to capture and attractive composition with each individual photograph. Composition refers to the layout of the image. In other words, composition deals with how close or far away from your subject you are, how much background is captured in the image, and even your use of negative space in the photograph.

While you likely want close-up shots of the people you love, remember that just having a face in a picture is often underwhelming. Capturing a bit of the setting and environment can take a picture from a simple snapshot to a cherished heirloom that recalls the exact moment when it was taken. Remember that composition includes the angle of your shot. You may need to get up on a ladder or down on the floor to really capture the moment.

Before the holidays get here, consider reading up a bit about composition in photographs. You can practice with objects around your house, as well as portrait shots with members of your family that live with you. Practicing before the holidays helps ensure that you will have a good eye for the right shot when it arises.

Lighting impacts your shots, too

One often overlooked issue related to holiday photographs is the way that lighting is different in the winter, as well as how holiday decorations and lights impact photographs. You might think you have a perfect shot, but when you look at it later, there is a blurry green glow around the image, thanks to your Christmas tree lights. Be very aware of all light sources in the room where you are taking pictures. For a festive glow, try lighting some candles and place a few on the dinner table and anywhere else where you'll be taking lots of photos.

If at all possible, avoid taking pictures looking into the light. When the subject of your photograph is between your lens and a source of light, they will end up back late, which could dark in their features and detract from an otherwise beautiful photograph. Thankfully, there are also tricks to help you deal with backlit subjects when capturing an image.

Getting the timing right

Lighting isn't the only nuance to keep in the back of your mind. You should also be thinking about timing. While staged shots can be quite lovely, nothing truly captures the family dynamic in the same way that candid photographs do. Pay close attention to the flow of conversation and activity. Generally speaking, you will know when the moment is right to snap a few shots, whether it is a great-grandchild giving thank you hugs or an expectant mother opening a surprise present, waiting for the perfect moment to get honest reactions and real Expressions can turn a standard photo opportunity into a cherished memory.

The biggest drawback of taking your own holiday pictures is the fact that your brain tends to focus more on the act of photographing then it does on being in the moment. In other words, if this is a truly special holiday, it might be worth it to hire a photographer to attend your event. Otherwise, see if other people in your family will share photography duties. That way, you can capture all those Beautiful Moments without missing out on them because you are attempting to record them.

By Jackie Edwards, freelance writer