Whether you’re out looking at Christmas lights with the kids, at the school’s holiday concert, or at the traditional family dinner, odds are there will be TONS of opportunities to take photos this holiday season.
But, where do you start? How do you handle the low light situations or those bright Christmas lights? Here are a few of our tips on how to handle the holidays with your camera in hand.
General Tips for Taking Holiday Photos
Tip #1 Use Portrait Mode for pictures that focus on people
If you know how to use your camera in Manual Mode, we highly recommend using it. But, if you aren’t familiar with the settings involved with shooting in manual, Portrait Mode is a great option for photos where the focus is a person or group of people.
You’ll find you’re able to capture better skin tones and usually there’s a shorter depth of field so the background is slightly blurred to put emphasis on the person.
Tip #2 Sunny outside? Use a flash. (yes, really!)
Your camera will typically find the brightest thing in the frame to use as a standard for exposure. If you are out on a bright sunny day, this means the faces of your loved ones will often look dark in bright scenes because the camera adjusts it exposure to the brightness around your loved one.
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 them face away from the sun and use the flash to brighten their faces without the squint.
Tip #3 Get down to eye level when shooting kids and pets
This one I know we’ve mentioned before but it’s worth repeating. When photographing kids and pets, get down to their level for a more natural photo with better scale. Sometimes that means crawling around on the ground, but you’ll be glad you did when you see the image.
Tip #4 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. And you wouldn’t want Aunt Beth to be left out of the shot.
A wide-angle lens will, as its name suggest, capture a wider angle, letting you get the entire extended family into your photo. This 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.
One important additional benefit of wide-angle lenses is that they have the largest depth of field (unlike telephoto lenses, which have a short depth of field), so they keep more of the scene in focus from near to far and the kids in the front row will be just as in-focus as the parents behind them.
Taking Photos in Low Light Situations
Tip #5 Raise the ISO Level
When you raise your ISO setting, the camera sensor becomes more sensitive to light. Raising the ISO setting makes your camera sensor more sensitive to light. The sensor’s sensitivity to light will allow more of that light into the image thus making low light situations easier to photograph in. The more sensitive it is, the faster the camera can take a photo, which will reduce the amount of blur caused by camera shake.
There is one caveat to raising your ISO. If you push the ISO number up too high, you’ll start seeing noise. What’s noise? It’s those grainy-looking imperfections you see most easily in solid-colored areas. Try taking a few practice shots to see which setting gives you the best balance between reducing blur without too much of that grainy noise.
Tip #6 Put your camera on a tripod
One reason why so many low-light shots don’t come out well is that the camera often needs more time to capture that image making it difficult to hold the camera (or phone) still long enough to get that beautiful crisp image you envision.
Using a tripod takes the shake factor out of the equation. You can also try using the camera’s self-timer mode or even a hand held remote to avoid any movement from pressing the shutter button.
Tip #7 Use a lens with a low f-stop
A fast lens will let more light through so you can take your pictures faster, reducing the potential for blur. Not sure how to tell the speed of your lens? Check out the maximum “f-stop” number on your lens (it’s usually listed somewhere on the side of the lens and notated as “f/X.X” ). The lower the number, the wider the aperture and the more light the lens will let in. A good lens choice for individuals or couples will come in at f/2.8 or lower.
But, keep in mind that if you are taking a photo of a large group or scene this tactic may not be your best choice. We recommend at least an f-stop of f/8 when photographing large groups of people. This will keep all individuals in focus.
Why Choose M3 Creative?
Gotta Have It All? I’m NOT your average Personal Branding Photographer. In fact, I am FAR from it. I take your personality and your passions and turn them into one-of-a-kind images.
Besides having images that stand out from the crowd, one of my biggest goals for my personal branding clients is for you to feel right at home. You’ll hardly even know your being photographed. So – Bring your laptop, favorite books, favorite coffee mug, or anything that tells YOUR story. Show me your passion – your personality, and I’ll give it right back.
Want to get start right away? Let’s schedule a phone call and chat about the details of your brand vision