Fabulous Festive Photography Tips
Almost everybody owns a camera nowadays, and it doesn’t need to be a flashy or expensive one to take great photos. With Christmas just around the corner, we asked photographer Louise Miller for her expert advice on how to capture all those special festive moments in photos you’ll want to treasure forever.
All Louise’s photos have been taken and edited on a phone camera, so should be perfectly achievable for us non-professionals too.
1. CHECK LIST
Plan ahead and make sure you have everything prepped.
– Pack your camera, don’t leave it behind!
– Ensure batteries are fully charged, pack spare batteries or have the charger to hand.
– Back up and empty memory cards ready to refill with the events of the day.
– Do you need to pack a flash? If so, don’t forget check the batteries are fully charged for these too!
-Tripod; for any longer exposures (useful in darker conditions), or using the timer for a group portrait you want to be in too.
Consider your lighting. Make the most of the daylight either by either going outdoors or by placing the subject by a window; try shooting side on, for a portrait shot have the subject angle their face slightly towards the window rather than looking straight at the camera. Try using a sheet of white paper or card as a reflector, bouncing the day light back to add fill light to the shadowy side of the subject. Note, you may want to find someone to assist you with this. Also try using your flash with the daylight, for a brighter look but without all those harsh shadows flashes can cause in darker conditions. If you have time, try experimenting with the different lighting effects so you can note the difference yourself.
In darker conditions camera flashes can be a little harsh. If you own an off camera flash, bounce the light off the ceiling for a softer light.
Use available light sources such as lamps and fairy lights to add more mood to your image. Don’t be afraid to move the subject or lighting around
If your camera has white balance settings ensure they’re set up correctly.
Use fairy lights in the background to create some pretty bokeh effects if your camera has the option of using a more shallow depth of field.
3. PLAN AHEAD
Make a list and jot down those ‘must have’ shots. Consider taking before and after shots, documenting something stage by stage, or even setting up a time lapse of the day’s events.
You may want to photograph the gifts, while still wrapped under the tree, or the dinner table with all the Christmas food & trimmings before everyone tucks in. Take any portraits or family photos earlier in the day while people are still looking fresh and at their best.
Don’t neglect the background when framing a subject, look at the image as a whole. Does the background distract from the subject? De-clutter where possible, move that handbag out of the frame, or move the subject in front of a more pleasing backdrop. If possible, use a lower F stop to blur any distracting background. Consider filling the frame, cutting out the background altogether. Move closer or use the zoom function to achieve this, and remember, you can always crop the image while editing at a later point.
5. PHOTO BOOTH
For an extra bit of family fun why not try to create your own festive photo booth. Use a wall or curtain as the backdrop and have a selection of playful props to hand. These can be any fancy dress items you may already have; wigs, feather boas, fairy wings, or a Santa suit. Try adding a few festive and winter themed items such as Christmas cracker hats, Santa hats, wooly Christmas sweaters, mittens, scarves and knitted hats, or even a pair of ski goggles!
If you have the time, why not make some of your own props. Cut-out shapes, moustaches, lips and glasses stuck on sticks make a fun addition to any photo booth.
Most compact cameras nowadays have a macro function which can be fun to play with and add interest to the Christmas photo selection. Try taking some close up shots of the Christmas foliage, decorations and food.
7. GET OUT AND ABOUT
Photograph your local town’s Christmas lights, or perhaps you are lucky enough to have a Christmas market nearby. Check for any other Christmas events of interest in your neighbourhood such as Christmas caroling. Get out of the house & get snapping!
8. EDIT YOUR IMAGES
Editing your images can make all the difference when it comes to adding a bit of wow factor, transforming just another picture into something that little bit more special. It can be as simple as adding a crop, correcting the colour balance and upping the contrast or saturation a little, or you might want to be a little more adventurous adding colour tints, blur effects and vignettes. Even a photo taken on your phone can easily be edited using an App – my favourites being Snapseed and VSCOcam.
Most importantly, don’t forget to put your camera down, get involved and enjoy the fun!!!