Posing for Holiday Pictures

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This year saw an astounding amount of new cameras hit the market, some of which are perfect for holiday parties.  Undoubtedly, there will be a camera or two at every party and soiree in the coming weeks.  There is a right way and a wrong way to pose for holiday pictures.  Whether you are hiring a professional to capture the best side of your family for a Christmas card or gathering around the dinner table for a candid full family portrait, be willing to branch out of the ordinary.  Even if you aren't hiring a professional to capture the moments rounding out the year 2010, cameras these days are advanced enough that anybody can be a skilled photographer.  Below are a few ways to take your holiday pictures from festive to unforgettable.

Holiday pictures don't require a fancy-schmancy dSLR in order for them to turn out frame or refrigerator worthy.  Plenty of compact point-and-shoots out there do a fine job compensating for lighting indiscretions, balancing color and even adding some cute effects.  If you have a camera that does a lot of setting adjustments automatically, then find a good setting that works for you.  Indoor, Low Light, Party, Candle and ISO Priority settings will compensate for all the weird lights you can find.  Holiday lighting can be particularly frustrating to navigate with tree lights and the sort.  If you are a learned photographer and have the knowhow when it comes to getting the settings right, then tweak that ISO to your heart's content.  Regardless of which camera is in use, avoid using the flash if at all possible.  Flash is what causes red eye; while that is something that can be fixed post-production or even from within your camera, flash can also show up in picture frame, mirrors, bouncing off your subject's spectacles or causing general photographic chaos.  When shooting pictures outdoors, the rules above apply here too.  Many cameras have preset modes that work well with the out of doors.  For instance, Portrait, Outdoor Scene or even Snow can create some nice balanced shots.  Find the setting that works for you and stick with it.  Fumbling with modes and settings can cause you to miss a great candid moment.

Capturing the Essence of the Family

A family is a diverse and wonderful thing.  Keep it natural, free-flowing and organized.  Though that sounds a bit like an oxymoron, you'll see what I mean.  Tight groups of people create their own framing.  Plus, people by themselves are interesting enough to look at.  As you can see in the picture below, photographer D. Jones crops out the scenery from the background and focuses on the two men and their dog (http://www.djonesphoto.com/).  Though this picture doesn't scream CHRISTMASSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!, it could still pass as a holiday shot.  And you don't have to rely on a professional to organize your family in this way.  Just get a few people (parents and kids, only cousins, just the grandbabies, furry children) and have them sit on a fairly neutral background.  If a not-so-distracting background isn't present, make sure to focus the camera only on the faces so it blurs out the distractions.  In D. Jones's picture below, though the plantlife isn't in focus, you can still tell it is there.  Imagine that one of those trees is your Christmas tree.  The hint of holiday will be enough to tell the viewer it was Christmas. 

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 Image Credit: D. Jones Photography: http://www.djonesphoto.com/


Capture a Unique Perspective

Love Life Images does a great job of showcasing how different angles can make the shot just right (Love Life Images).  In the picture below, taking a bird's eye view approach to the subject keeps it fresh and interesting.  Again, you don't have to be a professional to get such a cute picture.  Fake your own studio.  To reproduce the image below, clear a space on the living room floor, lay out a festive solid color sheet or blanket, wrap the baby in a scarf, blanket or holiday themed outfit and take a few shots squatting on the couch.  This doesn't apply just to babies and living room floors however.  Take the camera outside and have the kids lay out in the grass below the back porch.  Just as Love Life Images proves, a holiday pictures doesn't have to be all green and red.  A hint of holiday will suffice. 

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  Image Credit: Love Life Images: Link

 Break Out Those Embarrassing Props

I'm not suggesting everyone don an embellished holiday sweater, but I am suggesting you utilize this time to force everyone at the party to wear a Santa hat.  Holidays are one of the only occasions where is it excusable and almost required that you imbibe in the spirit of the season.  As you can see in the picture below, Luster Studios showcases how a prop can make the shot (Luster Studio's website).  Visit your local Dollar Store, pick up a few props and create your own scene.  As stated before, a hint of holiday will do.  There is no reason you have to be holding presents under the tree wearing a Santa hat holding a banner wishing everyone a Happy New Year.  Moderation is the best accessory.   

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Image Credit: Luster Studios: Link 

Pose By Not Posing

The easiest way to look your best in holiday photos is to dress sensibly, look natural and go with the flow.  Solid colors always look good in photographs, especially when there are decorations and busy backgrounds to compete with.  You want to stand out, not blend in.  If you do in fact pose straight on for a camera, don't do it with your whole body.  Turn slightly profile with your body while looking straight at the camera.  Keep your head held high.  If you want to avoid the droopy chin look (don't we all), push your tongue up to the roof of your mouth; doing so engages the muscles in your neck keeping everything tight.  Pushing your tongue up to the roof of your mouth and up against the back of your top teeth will also ensure you don't force a smile.  It may be Forced Family and Friend Fun, but it shouldn't look that way in pictures.    

Happy Holidays from Steve's Digicams!



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Maggie OBriant
Maggie O'Briant  Personal Blog Flickr

Maggie O'Briant recently graduated from Florida State University with an English Literature degree.  She is currently a freelance writer and photographer.    She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and giant baby. 

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