How to take better christmas photos
GET CLOSER TO YOUR SUBJECT
Their legs are not important; try to concentrate on the face, the expression, the smile. Dare to fill the frame with them and exclude the rest.
They are more interesting if not everyone is standing; the grandmother could be seated and have her grandchild on her lap . . . Posing with nothing else is also boring; you could hold your gifts or open a book of stories that amazed you in your childhood and look at it with the little ones. This way you’ll achieve more natural images.
Don’t centre everything within the frame. Try placing your point of interest in one third of the frame and you will see how the subject becomes more prominent.
BETTER WITHOUT FLASH
Photos taken without flash will be much more natural and won’t come out with ‘red eye’. In this way we capture the ambient light that, especially at Christmas, has so much charm.
To start with, we recommend avoiding the use of flash. Its harsh light doesn’t do any favours to the face and makes it paler. In addition, the built-in flash of compact cameras doesn’t reach more than three metres and everything beyond that will be lost in darkness.
Where the camera has a luminous lens, it is recommended that you de-activate the flash and, using the camera menu, increase the sensitivity – a parameter known as ISO. (Indoors with sufficient light you will need ISO 800-1600).
When we photograph at night or indoors, without flash, the exposure time is longer and it is advisable to use a tripod or place the camera on top of a table or something else; the important thing is that it’s stable. If you use the self-timer the photos will come out without blur, for sure. If people are in the photo, ask them not to move while the camera is taking the shot.
Switch off the ceiling light, and light candles, switch on the Christmas tree lights or other indirect lights, thus creating a perfect ambience to achieve spectacular images.
SPECIFIC AUTOMATIC PROGRAMMES
If the light is low, the specific programmes built into the camera are highly recommended. We recommend synchronisation of the flash with a long shutter speed – usually the night programme. Thus the camera flash fires and keeps the shutter open to allow in the ambient background light. Here also it’s recommended to use a tripod or put the camera on top of a stable object.
LESS IS MORE
Don’t try and get everything in the same photo. Details are more interesting and more beautiful: glass tree baubles, table decorations, or a single candle . . . there are no limits to creativity. Here the rule of ‘getting closer’ always applies; use the mode with the flower symbol.
Eliminate everything unnecessary; you could try including only one, two or, at most, three colours . . . you will see that the result speaks for itself.
A DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT
Our images will be more interesting if we photograph them from a different, rather than usual, perspective. To shoot from below or above, or to tilt and twist the camera a little, opens a new world of possibilities. For variety, you can give the camera to someone else – including children – because we all see the world differently.
At Christmas time we celebrate traditional customs and rituals. Why not capture the preparatory moments? How the biscuits and cakes are baked, the decoration of the nativity scene . . . without forgetting our pets, which are, in one way or another, involved. These types of images are fun and also enable us to create letters, Christmas cards, or a personalised calendar that can be used as a gift.
INCLUDE UNFOCUSED ELEMENTS IN THE FOREGROUND
Once again we are very close, but we focus on our main subject which we find this time more in the background. In this way the foreground is out of focus and it gives our photo a more artistic aspect.
BE CAREFUL WITH THE BACKGROUND
We usually tend to focus too much on our centre of interest (what we’re focusing on, that we want to photograph . . .) and we forget the background that will also appear in the photo. Here the rule of ‘less is more’ also governs. The more uniform it is, the less the background will be a distraction.
FROM THE EYE LEVEL OF CHILDREN
What would Christmas be without our little ones? When they unwrap their presents the camera already has to be ready, but instead of photographing them from above (from our own level), we should lower ourselves to the level of their eyes, to enter into their world. It’s better to have a photo than not being prepared for the moment of shooting . . . because children are unpredictable.
Have you always wanted to know how these photos are made?
You too can make them.
The trick is: chose the most open aperture – the one with the lowest number in the Aperture mode on your camera – and don’t focus. The more unfocused, the larger the light bubbles will be. Try it, it works, and is perfect for the cover of your Christmas album.
So you don’t lose a single magical moment over Christmas:
Control your batteries well, and just in case, always carry a spare and check your memory card, so that you don’t run out of space just at the most important moment.
. . . now you just have to enjoy it.