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        It’s almost the holiday season. You’re excited about parties, events and gatherings. Well, when people get together, they take photos.  This is going to happen, so here are a few tips on how to take better holiday photos and in the words of Brenden Francis Newnan, how to win your dinner party (or at least win the Instagram of your dinner party).

        Tell a story

        This is huge. If you want to share what it was like to be at the party, I suggest thinking about it in a 3 photo set. What are the people, place and things? Or can you make a wide, medium and close photo that shows what it feels like to be there.  Celebrate emotion, personality and the thing that people spent time working on. Slow down and don’t just go snap happy. If you really think about what you want to show, you’re going to be happier with the outcome.


        Use the rule of thirds

        This is one of the most classic photographic tools.  The idea is that if you split up a photo into thirds (vertically and horizontally), you put the interesting things on the spots that these lines intersect.  That obviously isn’t always going to be the case, but it is a good guide to help.  Centered photos can just feel a little off and are harder to pull your eye to the subject. I would say that square photos can be the exception to this rule because they like balance. See this video for more tips.

        how to bake better holiday photos

        Focus on faces

        There is a reason that duck-face selfies or anyone using a selfie stick puts the camera above them.  That’s because faces are the most important.  You want to show the people who you’re celebrating with and these are the best moments to do that. Make sure that faces are the easiest thing to see and that they’re the brightest. You want your eye to be drawn there first. I always encourage people to that when you take a photo of someone, your camera emits a pulse going out (like an EMP pulse in movies). What is the first thing that pulse will hit? We want it to be the face.

        White Balance

        This one is a little more technical. Light has color, even white light.  Most modern home lights have some yellow in them.  Your camera will work to counterbalance that, but just be aware. This also means that many brown things will look not very good in that yellow light.  If you’re trying to take a photo of turkey on a wood table under a normal light, it’s going to be really hard to make that pop.  You might want to try having a friend turn on the flashlight on their camera and standing on the side. That will give a little shadow and white light for the subject of your photo. You can also just move to a spot with truer white. In most cameras, there will be various settings for different places (like outdoors, indoors, tungsten, etc). Just play with it a little until you find that right look for your scene.

        Clean your lens

        Our phones sit in our pockets, purses and who knows where else all day.  So, the lens gets dirty.  Before you take that photo, just give it a quick wipe with your shirt or a napkin.  That little bit of extra clarity can really help bring out the filters.

        Go easy on the filters

        Filters are fun, but they are soooooo 2013. Though you may love those original IG filters or feel awesome by using VSCOcam, know that those are going to date your photos and are intentionally destroying information. That faded look was really trendy a few years back, but if you look at people on the front edge (like Allie Seidel or Chris Ozer) These little tools can help make your photos pop, but don’t go crazy. In both Instagram itself and VSCOcam, once you select your filter, you can tap that icon again to choose how strong you want the effect to be (see video).  I’d suggest turning it down at least halfway. You’ll still get the vibe, but it won’t be overblown.

        how to take better holiday photos

        Put the camera away

        This is one I have to work on this holiday season. Be present. Take a photo, but then be done. You can respond to comments in the morning, but tonight is only tonight for a little longer. Also, never drink and tweet.



        Did I forget anything? What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below!

        JTobiason Photography | Seattle Wedding Photographer | How to take better holiday photos | Joe@JTobiason.com

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