How to take better Holiday Pictures

In all the preparation for the upcoming holidays, I thought I would give you some tips on how to take better holiday picture. Time is fleeting and memories fade. Why not capture these family photo memories to share with friends, family and future generations.

  • Charge those batteries and clear those memory cards! Modern digital cameras are a marvel of mans ingenuity AND it makes a mighty fine paper weight if the batteries are dead.
  • "F8 & Be there" is an old saying amongst photographers. The whole F8 thing (refers to a lenses aperture or lens opening) isn't really important for our discussion, however "be there" is. Have your camera handy. You never know when that once in a lifetime moment will occur. If you have to scramble for the camera and get it ready, the moment will be lost. You want to be ready.
  • Composition suggestions. Get CLOSER! Getting closer to your subject will cut out all the distracting stuff in the background. It's the #1 problem with most family snapshots.
  • Snuggle Up! When photographing groups of people have them snuggle up. You don't want or need a lot of extra space around your subject. Keep some mints on hand. lol
  • Get on their level, particularly when photographing kids. When photographing children they will love how they look when you photograph them at their eye level. If you're standing for the shot and the little one is a couple feet shorter than you, you're going to get a shot of the top of their head. Get down on the floor and have your camera at the same height of their eyes. They'll love the way they look.
  • Don't center. Try having your subject a bit off center. And, before you take the picture look around the outside framing. Are people in the center AND there's a bunch of room above their head? If so, get closer and tilt the camera to put their heads near the top. 
  • FLASH or NOT? (indoors) The capabilities of your camera will have a lot to do with answering this question. If your pictures are blurry (camera or subject movement) you will need to use the flash to freeze the movement. Many newer cameras are capable of shooting in low light. Give it a shot. It looks more natural then flash.
  • FLASH Outdoors?? Yes, give it a shot. Sometimes lighting outdoors can be a bit harsh. Using flash will help lessen the shadows and you can turn your subject away from the sun so that they don't squint.
  • Snow Pictures. There, I said the "S" word. Whether you love it or hate it we'll probably see some this winter. Want better snow pictures?? Use the exposure compensation setting on your camera. It will most likely be a button with the following sign  +/-   . Camera exposure meters perform well for a scene with an average brightness, but will be fooled by all that snow. The photos will look gray/blue and kind of muddy. Set your exposure compensation dial to the plus side. Search my other blog post regarding snow pictures. Here's the link.

And last but not least. Put the camera down so you too can enjoy your family and friends.

Irving Harris is a Certified Professional Photographer specializing in Commercial and Portrait photography serving Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC. More information can be found at
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