Seasonal Gatherings and Photography

Every year, families and friends get together for the holidays to celebrate the year that is passing and to welcome the years to come. Everyone has their normal “roles” at these gatherings — the greeter, the quiet person, the gossip, etc — but one thing I’ve noticed is that every one of these gatherings has someone who is the photographer. I’ve also noticed that the photographer tends to either be the retired grandfather or the young mother in the group.

I also notice that there are a lot of forced photo opportunities in these gatherings. Some of them are understandable — it’s not too often you’ll get a natural image of several generations sitting orderly, looking the same direction, and staying still for a few seconds. However, some of these forced photo-ops are going to result in exactly the opposite of what you, the photographer, wants. So, plan your shots in advance and roll with the punches as best you can to capture the magic of this holiday season. Here are a few tips to help you on your way this year.

1. If the kids are playing happily, don’t try to force them out of it — If you want to get lots of images of happy children, then the last thing you want to do is try to make them stop playing to pose for your photos. Instead, try to work around any obstacles to capture the images without the kids even knowing that you’re there.

2. Don’t force smiles — Nothing ruins a great shot or a portrait more than a plastered-on fake smile. So, try to wait for the subject to smile naturally. This may mean timing your shots or giving up some of the organization that comes with posed shots and going for something that is a little more chaotic than what you’d normally want.

3. The people aren’t the only subjects in the season. Don’t be afraid to get up-close-and-personal with the decorations, both interior and exterior. Sometimes it’s the way that the house is decorated that winds up being the thing people remember decades down the road.

4. Get a shot of the holiday meal. If conditions permit, try to get some photos of the food before everyone digs in. For people who are great cooks, the beauty of the setting is just as important as the taste of the meal itself.

5. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not used to working outside of auto-mode, then try going manual and tinkering a bit with photos of objects. You’ll be surprised what changing the settings can do to shots of ornaments or fruits!

That’s all from us here at Beach Camera. Do you have any suggestions or tips to add? If so, post them in the comments below! Or, better yet, share some of your holiday photos with us and we’ll post them here for the world to see!

— da Bird