Photography 101

Holidays and Events

No matter what the holiday or occasion: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Baby’s First or Grandmothers’ 90th, we all want to take pictures. Capturing these moments on film is a challenge for most of us, and in spite of the cameras available today, we can still end up with some pretty disappointing results. The following tips will help you to capture these moments and make all your special occasion photos special.

Capture the Emotion

With every special occasion comes some unforgettable emotion. Be sure to keep the camera handy to capture those spontaneous giggles, hugs, tears and surprises that will crop up when you least expect them. Be ready to shoot! Those candid shots may become your most prized possessions.

Show the Candles Aglow

For those “candle holidays” like birthdays, Christmas and Hanukkah, you may want to capture the special glow that only a lit candle can provide. To do this, turn off your flash and hold your camera very steady by bracing it on a railing, tabletop or door frame.

Avoid Red Eye

We have all experienced the disappointment of taking the perfect shot if only everybody’s eyes weren’t glowing red. While there are lots of picture-editing types of software available, there is one great way to avoid red eye in the first place: have your subject look over your shoulder instead of directly into the camera. Turning all the lights on in the room is helpful as well. Remember to use the red-eye reduction feature on your camera if you have one available to you.

Stay Within the Flash Range

Make sure to check the flash range of your camera! Subjects too close to the flash will appear washed out, and if they are out of range they will be too dark. The typical digital flash range is between six and ten feet; a film camera has a flash range of up to fifteen feet. And don’t forget that weak batteries will give you dark photographs. Install fresh batteries when you know you will shooting a lot of flash photographs.

Avoid Flash Reflections

Remember that mirror and window in the background of a flash photograph will reflect the flash and ruin your shot. If a reflective background is unavoidable, stand diagonally from the subject of your photograph to reduce the glare of the flash.

Get Close

Don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. Too much background can clutter the photograph and take the focus off the subject. Close up night-time scenes will brighter, and detail will be much sharper with a close-in shot.

Photographing Reunions and Family Gatherings

Reunions and family gatherings provide the perfect backdrop for great pictures. Whether you are taking pictures of the newest family addition, grandma and grandpa or a multi-generation shot, there are plenty of opportunities to get the family on film.

Tell a Story

Take pictures of the weekend as it unfolds, and you will have the story of your special event on film! Take a picture of grandma as she gets out of the car, participates in the festivities with family and friends and her final departure for a timeline of events that will be a family treasure.

Use a Simple Background

Remember that a lot of stuff in the background can clutter your shot and alter the focus of your picture. Try and put the subject of your photograph in front of something plain and uncluttered. Nobody wants to see dad with a potted plant or light post growing out of the top of his head. If this is impossible, reposition yourself to get distracting background objects out of view.

Take Candid Shots

Resist the temptation to pose everyone perfectly for photographs. Candid shots often capture the personalities of the people and give a better representation of the event. Variety creates a lot of visual interest, so mix up your photographs for the best possible results.

Get Close

For the greatest impact, fill the camera’s viewfinder with your subject and eliminate all the background. Get close or use the camera’s zoom to put the emphasis exactly where you want it and eliminate the rest.

Provide One-Time-Use Cameras

Remember that everyone has a different point of view. If you provide several one-time-use cameras for everyone to use, you will find a variety of types of pictures (and vantage points) that will give a wonderful collection of photos to choose from when you begin to put together an album of the event.

We all know the value of a great set of pictures. The time we spend with family and friends becomes the memories we will live to cherish. With a little preparation and knowledge, anybody can get these moments on film and keep the memory of them alive for generations to come.


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