Your Best Holiday SmartPhotos Ever! / by William Wallace

Have your holiday smartphone photos been a disaster in the past? You may have shot 100s of photos of cute kids or puppies or Uncle Waldo passed out from a turkey coma and after looking at them later realized it was an awful mess of blur, cut-off body limbs and low lighting nightmares. Let’s do something to change that this year with a few tips that will have you and your loved ones saying, “Ho-Ho-Ho!”

There's nothing wrong with asking Santa for a portrait! 

There's nothing wrong with asking Santa for a portrait! 

Plan Ahead

Sure you want some fun, candid holiday snaps resting in your phone’s photo gallery after the season is over but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ready by planning ahead. First ask the question of what you want to capture this season. Are you looking to photograph kids, food, family games, or poses with all the decorations on your smartphone? Take a moment before all the madness starts and figure out what you need which could very well start with . . .

A Holiday Ready Phone

What does that mean? Here’s a quick list to check off.

  • Plenty of space to store photos

  • A clean lens and screen

  • A tripod

  • Extra light source for inside shots

  • Backup battery or power source

  • A notepad, literal or digital to write down your plan (What type of photos, places to shoot, a consistent or varied editing style)

So now you can see what you’re looking for and your gear is ready. The day arrives and you’re ready to focus in on . . .

People

You can’t take holiday photos without people. I mean you can but there will be a few people close to you who may come away upset if you only have food, trees, and ornaments in your photos. The winter season brings people together for all kinds of reasons. Capture their expressions, emotions, and love through your lens. What type of photos?

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  • Posed - Google some holiday posing ideas to spark your creativity. Include some funny, serious, and action poses in the bunch.

  • Candid - I love sitting inconspicuously as friends and family are around and catching candid moments. Hugs from aunts, groups laughing, reactions to a touchdown, and so many more are what our gatherings are made of. You may want to use burst mode and a sports setting to capture movement. Don’t forget that motion blurs in photography can really tell the story so don’t discard but put them to use.

A photo booth is a lot of fun!

A photo booth is a lot of fun!

  • Photo Booth - I love the photo booth idea when loved ones are around. Provide a few props (these can be interesting items found around the house) to make the photo booth shots fun and full of life.

Places

Take plenty of photos during holiday travel. The Gaylord Texan Resort, Dallas, TX

Take plenty of photos during holiday travel. The Gaylord Texan Resort, Dallas, TX

For many the holidays mean travel or vacation. Whether you stay at home or are on the road look for interesting places to photograph. Decorations and lights abound this time of year and you want to look for those things that show off your holiday experiences. Some ideas can be . . .

  • Places that carry a bit of history

  • Winter festival events

  • Old family home places

  • Interesting travel destinations

  • Backyards can have a completely different look this time of year

  • Anyplace with snow is a sure winner

Snow photos are always a hit!

Snow photos are always a hit!

Things

From food to decorations, the things of our winter gatherings are what many of us remember year after year. Some of those items you won’t want to leave out are . . .

Remember to photograph the things that are special to you during the holidays

Remember to photograph the things that are special to you during the holidays

  • Foods. Your favorites can be attractively photographed. Get in close so that you can have some bokeh effect (that blurred background you achieve when focusing in close on your subject). That can really bring out great details in the food.

  • Decorations. Beautifully decorated trees, lights, and meaningful symbols can provide such great photos for your holiday experience. Again, a close focus can bring out detail and eliminate distracting backgrounds. Remember, when I say close focus that I don’t mean to pinch in your screen. That really plays havoc on most smartphones. Unless you have some of the later model dual lens cameras on your phone it is better to zoom with your feet (yes, that means you may have to get up and walk a few steps closer).

  • Do we label pets as things or people. I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Just remember that photos of your pets will look much better if you’re down at their level.

Get down on the same level as your pets when photographing them. This is a good rule for pictures of children as well.

Get down on the same level as your pets when photographing them. This is a good rule for pictures of children as well.

Final Tips

  • Be sure to experiment and have fun with your holiday photo shots.

  • Different angles and perspectives will really make a difference in the way your shots look.

  • Share with friends and family.

  • It is wise to first ask those appearing in your shoot before posting them to social media.

  • Let me know some of your holiday hints in the comments below.

  • And please use the share icon below if you think this may be helpful for others!


May your holiday season be one that is blessed!