12 Tips of Christmas – A guide to better photos this Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year for getting people together, throwing a party and generally making memories. It’s also a time for taking a ton of pictures, but often our considered approach to taking pictures can go out the window.

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Let’s get you back on track with our 12 tips of Christmas…

1) Prepare – Make a List and check it twice….

Charge your batteries, clear your memory cards, consider lighting, and most importantly, pack your camera!

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2) A White Balance Christmas…

Often indoor party and home lighting is a nightmare at Christmas time. Dimmed lights might be cosy and tree lights lovely but put them together and you have a White Balance nightmare.  Shoot in RAW so you can tweak in post!

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3) Set up a DIY ‘Photo Booth’…

While you probably won’t hire a photo booth for your party you can set up a ‘portrait zone’ of your own where you’ll take photos of your guests. Guaranteed fun which is sure to get crazier as the night goes on. Use a tripod, flash and self timer for best effect.

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4) Capture the preparation stages…

The shots before the event/dinner starts are often great because they show everything at it’s best before the chaos begins. Preserve the memory of all that hard work before it looks like a tornado has ripped through your home!

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5) Time-lapse Christmas series…

Set up a webcam or action camera in the corner of the room and have it go off every 5 minutes. You’ll end up with one of the most wonderful series of shots that you’ve seen for a long time.

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6) Christmas Lights…

Photographing Christmas lights is something that can be tricky to do. David Hobby from Strobist has put together a great tutorial on how to do it. Check it out at How to Photograph Christmas Lights.

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7) Fresh Group Photos…

One of the most common types of shots at Christmas is the ‘group photo’. It’s usually taken at the end of the evening or day when everyone is looking at their worst. For a ‘fresher’ shot take it once everyone has arrived. Also think before hand about how you might pose everyone and where you might take the shot.

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8) Opening Gifts – Shoot in Continuous Mode…

The opening of gifts is like no other in that it is filled with an array of emotions, facial expressions and excitement – especially if you’ve got kids around. Shoot in continuous to capture that special reaction picture and don’t forget to shoot the reactions of those who GIVE the gift as well.

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9) Fill your Frame…

Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom or getting up and moving yourself closer. While this is one of the simplest tips I ever give it is one that can have the most profound impact on your shots.

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10) Diffuse/Reflect Your Flash…

Another common problem with Christmas shots is ending up with shots where the flash is so bright that subjects look like rabbits in a spotlight with harsh shadows behind them. One way around this is to use some sort of a flash diffuser or reflector. If you’re lucky enough to have an external flash try bouncing it off walls or the ceiling. Another way to reduce the impact of your flash and to create some interesting effects is to switch your camera into ‘night mode’ (slow sync mode). This will tell your camera to choose a slower shutter speed but still fire your flash. In doing so it’ll capture some of the ambient light of the room as well as freeze your subject. Be warned, you can end up with some wacky shots doing this (but they can also be lots of fun).

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11) Find a Point of Interest – but just one per shot…

All good shots should have a focal point that holds the attention of those viewing your images. The problem with Christmas is that there can often be too many competing focal points in shots with people, colour, decorations and food in every shot. Work hard at de-cluttering your images.

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12) Enjoy Yourself…

Despite everything we’ve just said, most importantly just enjoy yourself. Don’t let taking pictures get in the way of having a good time!

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