holiday photo valerie pierre

The holiday season is damn near upon us, and with it comes the increase of selfies and family photos. Every year it seems that we look for ways to outdo the previous years holiday photos. We go to great lengths to capture moments that will end up framed on fireplaces or be mailed in the form of a greeting card.

Which is why I was so grateful to have been invited to a photography lunch hosted by Consumer Tech Association (CTA), they were gonna hook us with tips for better pictures. I needed this, and you do too if you have a hard time getting the shot.

So, how do you take the perfect holiday photo?

Credit: Danielle Wilson of Dellah’s Jubilation

General photography tips

Use Burst Mode to ensure you get the shot.This is one of my favorite ways to capture a moment in motion. Burst Mode lets you to take multiple shots with one press of the shutter button. Start shooting when you anticipate the action and keep going.

I use this on my cell phone a lot. All I have to press and hold the shutter button. It will take 30 pictures in the blink of an eye. 

Use a tripod. I don’t know about you but I can’t hold a camera straight without shaking to save my life. Which is why so many shots don’t come out well because it’s really hard to hold a camera or phone still long enough to take a crisp-looking picture. Using a tripod takes the shake factor out of the equation. Also, try using the camera’s self-timer mode to avoid the movement that inevitably occurs when you press the shutter button.

Use a telephoto lens or change your aperture setting to highlight your subject. If you have an interchangeable lens camera, use a telephoto lens to isolate the subject. The lens’s shorter depth of field will blur the background a bit, making the person or pet pop in the image. You can also lower your f-stop to increase the camera’s aperture, giving a similar effect.

Use a flash on sunny days (yes, really!). Faces often look dark in bright scenes because the camera adjusts it exposure to the brightness around your subject. You can have your subject face into the sun for more light, but then you’ll wonder why everyone is always squinting in your photos. Instead, have then face away from the sun and use the flash to brighten their faces without the squint. Mind blown right? Mine was too!

Use a diffuse light source to reduce harsh shadows. Unless you’re going for a dramatic black-and-white character shot, it’s usually best to find a diffuse light source to soften the shadows. Blinds or shear curtains are particularly good at creating a diffuse light source to eliminate harsh shadows, so sit your subject near a window with the blinds closed for better lighting.

Get down to eye level when shooting kids and pets. One of the things I know I do wrong is photograph kids from my height. No. When shooting kids and pets, get down to their level for a more natural photo with better scale.

Tips for taking holiday scenes

holiday photo valerie pierre
Credit: Danielle Wilson of Dellah’s Jubilation

Use a wide-angle lens to get the whole scene. Capturing the entire holiday crowd can be a challenge, especially if you’re in a small space. For this they suggest a wide-angle lens. This is gonna allow you to capture a wider angle, making sure the entire family is in the photo.

Lens tip: The lens field of view is referenced as a “35mm equivalent focal length”, where smaller numbers mean a wider angle. For true wide-angle shots, look for 28mm or below.

Use candles and lights for an interesting background. I love taking photos with blurred backgrounds. It makes the picture pop even more. Don’t be afraid to use this tip to make your Christmas tree or decorated house a background in your photos.

Be sure you use a low f-stop (e.g., f/2.8, f/1.4) or telephoto zoom to make your background blur.
Use Exposure Compensation to make your snow whiter and your skies blacker. You ever take a picture of the snow and it looks grey even though it’s untouched? Yeah, me too. To make snow look whiter, use positive compensation to increase exposure, i.e. overexpose the image. For nighttime scenes, underexpose the image for inky black skies. Look for the exposure compensation option on your camera. It’s usually a +/- button or icon.

I hope these holiday photo tips will be helpful to you. Should you need any more assistance don’t be afraid to give CTATech a shoutout on Twitter. Together we gonna help you get your photo game on point!

These @CTATech gems are gonna take your #holiday #photography to the next level. #CTAPhotoNYC Click To Tweet

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