The holiday season is the time of the year where we take the most photos of our family and children. Many of us will turn to pinterest and other sources for inspirations of children holiday photos. How many of us have tried to emulate those cute holiday photos of cherubs in a gift boxes, toy bags, Christmas lights? I for one, since my daughter was born have been scouring the internet for ideas and quite frankly it didn’t always turn out very nicely. Through trial and errors, I’ve learned that the best children holiday photos are simple and candid.
As my gift to you, here are 10 tips to take better children holiday photos
- Invest in a good camera. I don’t mean get a professional camera. It doesn’t have to be an expensive camera with a gazillion megapixels, but it should be one that will give you clear sharp pictures in low light situations. It doesn’t have to have lots of functions either, you just need a camera with a good sensor. My first digital camera over a decade ago was a Fuji film finepix 50i with 4.3 megapixels, and I can tell you that it took better picture than some of the more recent cameras with higher resolution. It was a point and shoot, with no fancy styles or functions, just took great, sharp photos with beautiful colours I used it for year until my battery didn’t keep a decent charge and they no longer manufacture the memory cards anymore.
- Keep it simple. Use what you have, there is no need to go out and buy fancy baskets, hats or props. The best picture in my opinion are those that capture your family and children in there natural environment. If you are going to use props, keep it simple, try using an empty wall. Just because they are your children holiday photos doesn’t mean the xmas tree or all the holiday decorations need to be included in the image. Even if you do have all of the above in your background the best images are those where the background are blurred and you only have the holiday colours in your photo so as not to distract the viewer from the main point of interest; your children. Just a side not, pictures of babies or children tangled in holiday lights may seem like a good idea, but avoid unless the baby or child is an animal…IMHO
- Fill the frame with your subject. If your background is busy, a simple solution is to get close to your subject so that the background does not show. This also brings more attention to your subject. By getting closer, you also capture those precious expressions that wouldn’t be as dramatic. Remember to focus on the eyes
- Have a good 1.5 – 2 metres between your subject and those holiday lights to get a nice bokeh effect (blurry balls of light so popular in holiday photos). Chose the portrait style on your camera, focus on the eyes of your child and stand as close to your subject as possible. I suggest using the portraiture style on your camera because that’s the style that will most likely give you the effect desired. If you have a camera which allow you to choose your camera settings, use the widest aperture possible with the longest focal length.
- When standing in front of those holiday lights, to avoid your subjects coming out too dark, ensure you light the front of your subject to counter the brightness of the background. It could be natural light, ceiling light or flash (with diffuseur), it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If the lights from your background is white, you can simply use a large white cardboard or to reflect the light back onto your subject. An alternative is to have your children turn their faces toward the light source, and take a picture of them from the side that is lit. This creates a more interesting image. Try different angles and see what works best.
- Use a tripod. Most likely if you are living in Canada, the holiday season also means that daylight is limited and your house may not have sufficient light. In this case, use the night mode and put your camera down on a table or chair or use a tripod to avoid blurry images. This method only works if your subject can stay still because your camera will use a slower shutter speed to let in more light, which means any movement will be recorded onto the photo.
- If your camera has a burst mode, use it. This setting on your camera takes multiple images from one push of the camera . You cannot tell a child no to blink, by using the burst setting, you are sure to get an image where the eyes are open. Also it’s great for action shots.
- If you are using a flash, use a diffuseur. It can be as simple as putting a piece of tissue paper over the flash head to avoid the deer in the headlight effect.
- Created a candid image by shooting through a split between plants, leaves, Christmas tree branch, and ornament, a wreath….
- Have fun! Magic happens when you least expect it. Have your camera ready during the time when you know something will get a reaction from your children, such as opening of the gifts, a special holiday activity, the arrival of a loved one. Create that moment; give your kids something you know they’ll love and just capture the moment on your camera. My favourite children holiday photos is one of my daughter when I got her a ballet tutu for Christmas, we turned on the sugar plum fairy music and she danced around the room with her stuffed toy in front of our tree.