Six Tips to Improve Holiday Photography – Part Two

Posted by Jerry Avenaim on December 2, 2009 – 9:15 pm

As I said in part one of this post, my mother-in-law had some issues when receiving her first digital point and shoot, which was simply how do you maximise the potential of your digital camera?  A few simple steps and words of wisdom and like my mother-in-law, you will be well on your way to taking great pictures this holiday season and beyond! So here are the additional tips…

My father photographed his father in the 1960's using Kodachrome in this beautifully composed image.

My father photographed his father in the 1960's using Kodachrome in this beautifully composed image.

4.  I love digital, don’t get me wrong, however the “spray and pray” method of photography does not apply.  Hoping to get one good photography out of holding down the shutter for 30 seconds does mean you will have more images to choose from, but nothing that you would want to choose.  It does not require 30 frames to take one good one! If most photographers today were still buying roles of Kodachrome and were limited to the 24 or 36 exposures, I am sure they would be more patient and take better pictures. Take a moment to remember the basic rules, and when the time is right, THEN you press the button, and only once. I can hear you know, but it’s a group and what if somebody blinked yada yada… Okay, no problem in taking a few more WELL THOUGHT OUT images, what good is the option to choose more images of people maybe or maybe not blinking when you have strangers walking into the frame or the sun is now behind a cloud? Holding down the shutter to the point of it sounding like machine gun fire and you are storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day is NOT a requirement in today’s photographic world, and it will not make your pictures look any better in the shutter lottery.

My daughter Skye in the backyard - in open shade!

My daughter Skye in the backyard - in open shade!

5. Let’s forget the sun, the indoor and the flash. A beautiful opportunity to take a well composed photograph is always going to be in open shade. No shadows, flash or any other factors to be concerned with. Just a beautiful even light that spreads across the face. This can be done anywhere from your porch, overhang and doorway. This is something I do even when photographing celebrities and models for a magazine. It’s a trade secret, stay out of the sun 🙂

6. This one drives me absolutely crazy! When you look through your viewfinder or at your LCD screen to compose your photograph, compose it in camera. Don’t just think “oh I can crop it later.” Cropping is for farmers! When you start cropping into the real estate of your photographs, they are losing value! When you purchase the new digital camera that has more megapixels than your older camera all cropping your image will do is effectively reduced the resolution (megapixels) of the image to a third or half! In addition, when you start cropping in on an image you are bring out the noise in the digital file, much like grain in film. When you’re done with all the cropping you don’t want your precious photo to look like a connect the dots or shot from a $8 disposable film camera!

I think this is a photo of my mother and her friends in Hawaii. But I can't tell because my attention is drawn to the beautiful tree and beige building :(

I think this is a photo of my mother and her friends in Hawaii. But I can't tell because my attention is drawn to the beautiful tree and beige building 🙁

Remember, you can break every one of these rules and get creative if you know what you’re doing. But if not, start here. You will get better photographs, guaranteed. For better or for worse, family members will be handing you the camera for the holidays cause, “you are the one who takes great pictures.” Happy holidays!

Jerry Avenaim

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4 Responds so far- Add one»

  1. 1. Gerry Hanan Said:

    Jerry – great follow up post to complete the tips on shooting for the holidays – Im going to link to both from my blog and when people are looking for advice from me I’ll point them to what you said. I’ll definitly remember the reference to storming Normandy 🙂 For me, this series of posts was made even better because of your use of actual personal photographs. Its always precious to see new shots of Sky (love the one with the swim hat), and in this post, it was really touching to see the shot your dad took of his dad.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Avenaim Reply:

    Thank you Gerry, I’m glad you enjoyed the entry. I couldn’t sleep last night so I thought I’d nock out part two before coming into the studio for my shoot today. And thank you for the kind words about the photographs, the image of my grandfather by my father is very dear, and I don’t often share images I make of my daughter 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. 2. Rob Greer Said:

    Open shade ROCKS! You’re the man Jerry!

    [Reply]

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