Capture the holidays with a fresh perspective

A baby and young girl with a Christmas tree
Photo by polinaria_egorova/Shutterstock

The holidays are the perfect time to take photos of your friends and family. Everyone is together, in high spirits, and enjoying the festivities, so grab your camera and capture some memories that will last a lifetime.

It can seem stressful to try and capture all the special moments that happen during the holiday season, so below are a few tips to help you take some great photographs worth remembering.

Capture every moment

The worst thing you can do during the holiday season is forget your camera. Holidays are a great opportunity to make lasting memories, but in order to look back fondly for years to come, you’ll need photographs to look at.

When it comes to kids, you basically never want to stop shooting. They are a rollercoaster of emotions, crying on Santa’s lap in one moment, happily ripping open a gift in another. You never know which images are going to turn out best, so the more photographs you take, the better.

Approach from a new angle

There are many photographic holiday clichés, such as standing in front of the tree, or posing around the holiday feast, but that doesn’t mean you need to fall into a rut. There are many ways to capture a perfect holiday shot, you just need to approach things from a different angle.

Sometimes the easiest way to freshen up a shot is to get high or go low. Switch up the camera’s perspective and suddenly you have entirely new images. You can also try a variety of close-up shots and panoramas, to see what better captures the moment. Also, don’t be afraid to photograph people who aren’t looking at the camera; capturing them in action—decorating the house, baking cookies, lighting candles—will show the holidays from an entirely different perspective.

Have fun with editing

Great photography no longer relies completely on the original shot. Sure, it definitely helps to have an eye for aesthetics, but in the digital age, you can be just as successful if you’re an editing wizard. Whether you’re using complicated programs for digital manipulation, or easy to use apps, a little creativity makes a big difference. Even something as simple as Snapchat’s holiday filters can provide a lot of fun and leave you with some hilarious memories.

When it comes to holiday lights, one of the most popular effects is the bokeh. This effect blurs the background, and gives twinkly lights that extra special dazzle. There are plenty of apps that will achieve the look for you, or you could do it right on your camera by opening up your aperture nice and wide. Also, keep in mind that editing can also be as simple as moving things around in the room before capturing the perfect shot.

A little posing goes a long way

The best way to ensure you have accurately captured the holiday is to photograph a variety of posed and natural shots. While it can be a lot more fun to capture the fun as it unfolds, snapping family and friends as they interact with one another, in the end you will be disappointed not to have any photographs of smiling faces looking right at the camera.

To keep things a little more natural, have people stop and pose in the middle of an action. Have the camera ready and yell “cheese” during a game of charades, carol singing, gift unwrapping, or braiding of the challah; you’ll end up with some fun action shots, but with your subject actually looking at the camera.

If you really want to get silly and creative, set up some props or a DIY photo booth where friends and family can dress up and pose together in the holiday style. You could even let your guests take some of the photos to get some alternate perspectives—and it will be a fun surprise to see what they captured later on.

Plan ahead

Like any good event, the holidays need extra planning. When it comes to your photography, there are a few ways to get everything sorted out ahead. First of all, make sure your battery is charged the night before. It would also be helpful to have an extra battery on hand. You could even pack your charger, just in case. Make sure there is plenty of storage room on your camera, or grab some new memory cards.

When all your equipment is together, including tripod, selfie-stick, battery, etc., make a list of everything you want to photograph over the holidays. Prepare yourself for every situation, and think about what kind of lighting and preparation might be necessary to ensure the perfect shot.

Don’t miss the pre- and post-party fun

Sometimes the best moments of the holiday are the in-between moments. The party hasn’t started yet, but you find your siblings crowded together in the kitchen eating candies off the gingerbread house. Some of the happiest, and most memorable moments happen before the party even starts. Think about capturing the process of decorating and preparation; both are important aspects of the holiday season.

And the photo-worthy moments don’t stop when the party does. Have the camera ready when the party is winding down because people are often at their most comfortable when the stress of the event has passed. The combination of exhaustion and overeating often leads to bouts of laughter and silliness, and the kids might end up falling asleep in a jumble by the couch. These are the moments worth remembering.

Group shots for the win

One of the most common regrets of the holiday season is the realization that there were no group shots. Sure, all of your friends and family ended up in a few photographs, but there should also be a few group shots to remember everyone together. Group shots can be hard to achieve because it means everyone has to be together in one place, smiling at the same time. It can seem impossible.

However, there are many ways to ensure a great group shot. Let everyone stand and sit until they are comfortable. It will be much easier to get them to smile if they aren’t awkwardly standing still for five minutes. Next, let them chat while you start taking pictures to get them at ease. Then make sure you take several shots of everyone looking at the camera. There are going to be some duds in there, but if you take enough photographs, there will be one great image to share around.

Also, don’t be afraid to set the timer if you also want to be in the shot. If you’re lucky, your timer also includes burst, or multiple shot options, so you can take a few photos at once and won’t have to keep setting up the timer until the perfect shot is achieved. Capture the group shot early on, before anyone needs to leave, and before the kids are tired and cranky. It will be worth it.

Also on RNR: