Not only is Christmas morning hectic…trying to capture it can be just as frustrating and stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing. So on my Facebook Business Page DeannaGPhotography I did a Capturing Christmas Video series over a 5 day period revealing some of the best photography tips and techniques to use with a DSLR (this does not apply to phone cameras). Day 1 starts off talking about how to successfully use Flash for indoor shots when you have a lit tree and want to properly expose both the tree and your subject(s)! I then move to Day 2 talking about Composition; revealing tips on how to creatively capture your Christmas memories in a unique and emotive way. Day 3 goes on to talk about Candid Photography and how to accomplish action shots. Because let’s face it…Christmas morning goes by way too fast to expect too many posed shots especiallty from your kiddos- if any at all. Day 4 discusses Camera Settings Savers covering how to accomplish proper White balance (color and tone to your images), proper exposure (by manipulating the light with Exposure Compensation) and lastly how to get sharper photos by using Back Button Focusing. Finally Day 5 ends with how to share your work! Presenting your images is just as important as taking your images. So I cover how to plan for telling a story with your images and presenting them in a way your viewer will understand your narrative. Plus proper image size dimensions for sharing on your Facebook Wall.
If this interests you at all…be sure to check out my Business Page’s live video series on Capturing Christmas! This doesn’t necessarily only need to apply to Christmas but any special day, holiday or life event you’d like to document.
But please don’t get jaded! Even Professionals like myself run into lighting issues, soft focused shots and problems with color balance and color casting (especially when shooting indoors)! For instance in this visual story I struggled a bit in my own home. Indoor shooting can be tricky and I didn’t want to use flash which can take twice as long to use and doesn’t make for the most candid photography. I specialize in natural light so flash is always a last resort option for me.
My kitchen gets the worst light. No matter which White Balance I chose the color just seemed off. Luckily I have the ability to post process and fix those issues in editing software like Lightroom and Photoshop. But it can take a lot of time so I always aim to get it right in camera first. In these bad lighting situations I pick the best White balance and correct later. Also when I know I’m going to be getting in close and aiming for more detailed shots I use a wide aperture so I don’t have to compensate my shutter speed and ISO as much (which can compromise sharp action from too low a Shutter Speed and pixelated or grainy images from too high of ISO). Besides with wider aperture lenses you get that faded background and one sharp subject which really allows viewers what to notice first. So I made sure to use my 50mm prime lens (it allows for a f1.4) and because I wasn’t going to be needing to get wider angles I could sacrifice using a zoom lens. Anyhow, I try to not guide or manipulate this type of documentation..because I really want to remember these real life moments for how they are. Especially of my own family. I did manage to get a few smiles come my way and I even got to be in one of them! Which doesn’t happen often..thanks to my son Trent!
Here’s a few snaps I took of my boys decorating Christmas cookies. A little less hectic and a lot less action as compared to opening presents on Christmas Day. But just as much fun and memories I’ll always cherish!
But what’s most important (which I talk about in my Day 5 live video) is to plan for the type of shots you want to visually share. You won’t get exactly what you want all the time. But it serves as a good guide of what to anticipate and look for while you’re photographing. In the image above I aimed to get a chronological order of events surrounding the cookie decorating: mixing and rolling out the dough, cutting the dough out with cookie cutters, placing in the oven, decorating and showing how it can be fun along with some other detail shots surrounding the day-like it being 2 days before Christmas and a close up of the cookie cutters used!
Just remember your images are your perspective. There’s no right or wrong shots! So pick up that DSLR, shoot with confidence and have fun with this! Merry Christmas!
Update: Since writing this post, I actually had some time to edit a few snaps from our special Chrismtas morning. Check them out and if you’re feeling brave share some of yours in the Comments below!
Then there’s always those detail shots I just love taking…besides it helps me remember how to decorate the following year!