5 Tips for Making Better Holiday Photographs

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The holidays come and we sometimes forget that we’re photographers at family gatherings.  We stop taking photos, and we start taking snapshots.  Snapshots, for those of you new to the site, are functional photos that serve to preserve memories but aren’t necessarily great compositionally.  But snapshots serve only one purpose:  To preserve memories.  Great photographs, on the other hand, not only serve to preserve memories, but they are artistically beautiful as well.  So when the pressure of the holidays is upon us, use the following tips to help you shoot like the photographer inside of you:

  • Decorations are context, not the subject – Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t meant that you have to focus on the elements that make it a holiday.  Christmas, for example, is not about the decorations and the trimmings – it’s about the people.  Focus on the people, and the decorations will provide the context peripherally.
  • Remember to incorporate interesting angles – It’s very easy to get lazy during the holidays and shoot from wherever you are.  But think like the photographer that you are.  Get up, move around and look for the angle.
  • Pose less, shoot more – You’ll have your posed shots – they’re unavoidable when you have a camera in your hands.   But keep your eye out for candid shots and the short moments.  These are the shots that strike up conversations for years to come.  They’re also the photos that end up in frames.
  • Camera always at the ready position – As a follow up to the previous point, you need to ready yourself for the candid moments.  That means your camera should always be ready.  At the very least, keep it with you.  You’ll be surprised when the most precious of moments will happen.
  • Keep it Simple – You’re not working in a controlled environment.  There are dozens of people around and you will not have control over everything.  You don’t have time to get fancy.  Shoot as efficient as possible.  Now is the time to shoot in shutter priority or aperture priority (or even automatic), not manual.  Remember – getting the shot is most important.

Do you have any holiday photography techniques?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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