As a father whose children are now grown, I really enjoy looking through the albums that my wife and I made when Kate and Julie were youngsters. It’s great to re-live your children's happy moments years later, as they’re getting ready to graduate from high school and college or getting married.
Today, we wish we had taken a lot more pictures during the holidays, particularly of the girls interacting with their grandmothers. If there are children in your own family, be sure that someone in the group keeps the camera handy during the festivities. Here are some techniques that should work well for family picture taking.
Fill the frame: While it's great to get some overviews of the entire group and the decorations, also plan to take close-up shots of a single family member or a few who are interacting. Take advantage of the camera's zoom lens to get some nice frame-filling photos.
Add some light: Plan to use flash, even if there’s lots of sunlight streaming in through a window. Flash will fill in the shadow area, and help prevent under exposure: dark, grainy pictures.
Get down lower: Always try to shoot from your subjects’ eye level. This will produce the most pleasing pictures, especially of children. Get down on the floor with them if necessary to get intimate photos.
Be prepared: Natural expressions are fleeting and not all cameras respond instantly when you press the shutter release button. If you want to capture the hugs, a smile or an expression of joy, try this. While sitting in a spot where you're a bit inconspicuous zoom in on a potential subject. Make sure the flash is ready. A minute or so before you expect your subject to open a gift, or scream with joy, or hug a sibling, touch the shutter release button. This will allow the camera to make all the settings. Keep light pressure on the button and at the right instant press it down gently. You should record a photo at the perfect moment, capturing one of the best memories.
Shoot candids: I'm always tempted to play director, but it's important to take lots of unposed photos. Natural interaction is almost always better. Sure, it’s OK to request an occasional “freeze” or a “look this way” but also use the previous technique to get lots of candid moments. While some of your subjects will insist on posing, they’ll soon tire of that posture and you’ll start getting some candid shots.
Share your photos: Every family has a lot of photos that are still on the memory card or in the computer. This year, share them as soon as possible in an album on BetterPhoto.com. Also make or order prints of the best shots. Order several of each so everyone in the photo can get a print for their own albums.
Years from now, the Holiday pictures you took each year, especially the ones you printed and saved, will be some of the most cherished in your collection. So keep your camera ready during the festivities. Take lots of photos and be sure to share them as soon as possible with your online holiday album and prints.
- Peter K. Burian teaches two excellent online photography workshops - Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography and Mastering the Canon EOS Digital Rebels - at BetterPhoto's online digital photography school.
- Be sure to check out Peter’s instructor bio and his Pro BetterPholio website: www.peterkburian.com
- Also, Peter is a contributor to two new books: the just-published The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography and the upcoming The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light (due out in April 2012). Both are co-authored by Jim Miotke and Kerry Drager.