Take More Memorable Christmas Photos This Year

December 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is coming!  Soon we will be unwrapping gifts with friends and family, and if you're like me (i.e., the one with the camera), that means you'll be snapping away pictures all day, filling up memory cards.

The problem is that filling up memory cards is not the same thing as making memories.  Trust me- I fall into this trap every year, along with trying to find time to download hundreds of pictures from my camera and share them online.

Remember: you're not on assignment.  Rather than spending your day staring through the viewfinder, here's a quick shot list that will get you some moments to share, and then get you back to what's most important- enjoying time with your family.

The UnwrappingThe Unwrapping

5 Photos that will make Christmas MORE memorable this year

I'm going to ask you to trust me here and fight every instinct you have.  I know about your itchy trigger finger.  I know you feel very comfortable behind the camera.  But trust me- your family needs you.

Take a deep breath, take these five photos, then put the camera down (you can keep it nearby- I promise) and you will end up with far more memories.

1.  The Wonder

Nothing sets the stage like a picture of your child by the Christmas tree looking at all of the presents that may (or may not) have magically appeared overnight.  See the world through their eyes and capture a candid moment of wonder and anticipation.

2.  The Unwrapping

I'm going to shoot straight with you for a minute: I don't want to see 100 photos of your children unwrapping presents.  I don't want to see 10.  If you post them, I'm going to skip them.

The reason is simple: they all look the same.  You can't see what the gift is, so to the viewer, the subject is just colorful paper.

Instead, be creative and get a detail shot.  Try a close-up of little hands peeling away the wrapping paper.  This way you eliminate as many distracting elements as possible and that ONE shot can represent the "unwrapping" process for the entire day.

3.  The Surprise

Be ready (get in position and pre-focus) to get their surprise and excitement when they open up "the big one."  This expression will often peak BEFORE the present is completely unwrapped, so don't miss it!

Keep in mind that this is about capturing their REACTION to the gift, not the gift itself.  (We'll get to the gift in just a moment.)

4.  The Reveal

Just after "The Surprise," everyone else in the room will (knowingly) start asking "What is it?"

Get a good photo of "The Reveal" once the present is completely unwrapped and they turn it for everyone else to see.  When you look back in a few years, this photo will serve as a reminder of, "That was the Christmas when we got _____."

On a related note, my family has a history of giving overly practical gifts: socks, underwear, tape dispensers, vacuum cleaners.... (you get the point).  If your family is like my family, PLEASE save the reveal photo (and any online sharing) for the big one.  Thanks in advance.

5.  The Family

With the entire family gathered, you'll also want to make a family portrait.  This doesn't need to be a Norman Rockwell or something to hang on a wall, but it will be a memory to keep for years.

Depending on your Christmas traditions, you may want to give everyone a break to clean up, get dressed, relax, and get something to eat and drink.  In fact, I almost insist on this simply because it lets everyone (yourself included) unwind a little, which will make for a better photo.  Just make sure everyone knows you will be taking one more photo of the family, and what to expect.

Set the timer, get in the photo yourself, and then get back to your family.

BONUS: Be in a picture

My wife's chief complaint is the relatively few pictures we have of me, especially at family events.  Put the camera in Program and let someone else take a picture or two of you.  They don't have to be perfect, but it will be especially meaningful to everyone else to have a few pictures of you WITHOUT the camera.

And since you followed my advice to get these five good shots and put your camera down, that will be an accurate memory.


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