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:: It's Christmas Eve ::

Christmas Eve is the big one in our house, probably because of wanting to capture all of our traditions, so many of my favorite memories are wrapped up in this day. But no matter which day is most important to you, you're going to want to capture those perfect moments with friends and family... and to that end I have a list of handy tips that I keep close and which I will share with you!

1. Prepare... got your list? Checked it twice?

Making sure you’re ready.
  • Pack the camera – that goes without saying doesn't it? But one year I forgot mine in the rush to get the car packed with food and presents and such when we had Christmas Eve at the other in-laws house. What a mess. never again.
  • are your batteries are charged? Do you have extras and/or the charger packed?
  • Pack an extra memory card {s} – make sure they are empty and ready to fill up.
  • Consider the light in the room that you’ll be photographing in. Is there enough light? Will you need a flash? Are the backgrounds too cluttered and distracting? Pay attention.

2. I'm dreaming of a perfect white balance Christmas

Pay attention to what type of light you’re shooting in and set your white balance accordingly. We all know that this alone makes the difference in each picture. Do this first thing. 

3. Set up a DIY "Photo Booth" and a nice backround.

Set up a "portrait zone" of your own where you can take photos of your guests. It can be so fun! Then you can just leave a camera (a point and shoot) set up on a tripod and set to a short self timer time so people could photograph themselves during the rest of the party with different backgrounds. Have some Santa hats and tinsel and antlers etc: for people to decorate themselves with. I tried this last year and lots of people had fun with this one! People kept going back to it throughout the party, the photos got crazier and crazier as time went on. It was totally the hit of the party! The kids love this too!

4. Capture the day...

Don't forget other photo opps during the day, things like;

  • Food preparation {what is going on in the kitchen?}
  • Decorations {are their special things people brought or made?}
  • Wrapping gifts {catch someone last minute wrapping?}
  • Child having a tantrum about something. {what about being good for goodness sake?}
  • Setting the table {tablescapes} The table is beautiful... be sure to capture it.
  • After the party - sure looks different right? {who's on clean-up detail?}
The "before" shots are great because they show everything at it’s best- that would be right in the wee hours before everyone descends in on your party zone.

5. Use your computer's webcam to capture many of those special moments

Try this with your computer's Web cam: set it up with the camera looking at one particular place like the table, or the family room, and then set the camera to go off every 5 minutes over the course of the whole day. Tell no one. You will end up with some of the most wonderful shots ! All unplanned, and unknown. Those are the best kind don't you know. Sneaky, isn't it?
6. Christmas Lights
Photographing Christmas lights is something that can be tricky to do. There are a number of really good tutorials online. I don't want to recommend one over another though. Just Google it!

7. The Group Photos
One of the most common shots at Christmas is the ‘family group photo’. It’s usually taken at the end of the evening or day when everyone is looking their worst. Instead, take the family picture once everyone has arrived. Also, have some ideas on how you want to pose everyone and where you might take the shot, and what kind of groups you'd like pictures of.  
8. When it's time to open gifts, shoot in Continuous Mode to capture every moment.
There are going to be certain moments during Christmas that are filled with photo opportunities you just can't miss, like the opening of gifts. It is filled with such emotions, facial expressions and excitement – especially children. Switch your camera to burst mode (sometimes called continuous shooting mode) and take lots of shots at this time of the festivities. You’ll find that you will end up with some excellent series of shots when you do this, that capture much more than you would have normally. You'll end up capturing the best reactions from people as they open presents of joy, humor, and disappointment!
9. Fill your Frame 
Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom, or by moving closer. You won't be sorry, I have captured some of my best pictures with this one tip alone. 

10. Use your Macro Mode

Most digital cameras come with a macro mode it's most useful to photograph the smaller things around you , like ornaments on the tree, some small table decorations, candies in the bowl on the table, a nativity scene on the mantle piece, holly above the doorway – sometimes it’s the small things lying around that are the real gems. 
11. Watch Your Aperture
I am constantly changing the aperture depending upon my subject. It took me a lot of trial and error to figure out how I wanted to set it and for what. If I'm aiming for something small, I’ll use a large aperture because then the background is out of focus, but on a shot taken from the end of the table of everyone sitting down eating I’ll choose a small aperture so I have a larger depth of field and then I'm able to keep everyone in focus.

12. Explore outside your door already

If your neighborhood is anything like mine there is an almost unlimited number of photographic opportunities presenting themselves all around you. Christmas carols, Church services, homes  covered in Christmas decorations, downtown business windows filled with decorations. It's up to you to get out there with your camera and capture it. What a wonderful time of year to practice using your camera. Have fun!

But, most important, no matter when and what you celebrate, I wish you peace and joy for you and yours. Thank you for your kind thoughts and comments throughout the last year. I have appreciated them all.

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