Thursday 2 December 2010

photography for the festive season

In my first part of photography for the festive season I wrote about how to take photos of objects and things that make the festive season special to you.Today I want to talk about photographing people at Christmas.
I try every year to take an 'official' family portrait.  These are generally posed sometimes informal but they have a set structure to them.  The best photos I have done have locations with plain backgrounds and just plain coloured t-shirts (or maybe long sleeve in the northern hemisphere) and jeans.  Plain colours work best so that the main focus of the photo is faces not the elmo print t-shirt  :). Then I just put the camera on a tripod or flat surface and run around and join the group.  If you find this too stressful find a friend to help you.

This photo was taken 6 Christmases ago.  I threw a blanket over a window box and an up light behind us and just kept snapping until we had a reasonable photo.  It doesn't need to be perfect.  Photos that aren't perfect tell a better story about the family any way.

 This photo really captured the personality of the children and was my favourite photo of them. It was taken against a plainly painted wall with natural light from a 3 windows. One on each side and on the front of the group.

This one was taken in our maize field.  Have a think about some creative locations in the area you live.
It was taken at dusk.  The best time for portraits is dawn or dusk when the natural light is at it's softest.  Even in winter time the light is better at this time of day.

Suggestions for locations
  • In front of the Christmas tree
  • Outside your home
  • In front of the family car.
  • With an object that tells a lot about your family ie.  a tractor if you are a farmer,  beside the prized mark 2 jaguar,  at your families favourite park
  • Somewhere with a plain background so your family is the main focus.
Use you imagination

This one is taken at a park.  When posing a photo think about configurations of layouts.  A triangle shape works well, as does people behind each other.  Try to make sure that everyone is at different levels to give variety to the photo.

So points to remember
  • Use plain clothing
  • Find locations with a plain background or with some special significance
  • Use a source of natural light inside or light at dawn or dusk outside
  • Put everyone at different levels to add interest
  • The photo doesn't have to be perfect.  Try an capture the essence of you family instead.  One year we only had tears from one child so that is what we had to go with. 
  • Take regular breaks to give everyone time to freshen up again.
  • Have fun and don't stress.  The more stress the harder it is to take the photo.

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