Today, we finish with tips from photographers Lindsay, Rebecca, and Kelly on lighting techniques and posing strategies.
1. Find Natural Light When Shooting Indoors– by Lindsay Horn
Is it too cold to shoot outdoors? Don’t worry, you can create beautiful images using the natural light available in your house. First, turn OFF your flash. Next you will need to find the best location inside your house. When shooting indoors, I usually look for North or South facing windows (to avoid any direct light) and large openings (i.e. patio doors, bay windows, or a series of windows close together). Don’t be afraid to move furniture if necessary! Once you’ve picked your spot, make sure to turn off any artificial lighting in the area.Now it’s time to set up your subjects. Place them either directly in front of and facing the window (front lighting) or at a 45 or 90 degree angle to the window (side lighting). When using front lighting, you will position yourself near the window with your back to it, but make sure that you aren’t blocking too much of the light. When using side lighting, position yourself next to the window, shooting across the opening towards your subjects. Are your kiddos extra-wriggly? Pull over your favorite armchair or a nice dining room chair for seating, it can add a nice touch! — Lindsay, Lindsay Horn Photography
2. No Natural Light? Taking Photos in Low Light Conditions- by Rebecca Keeling
Yep, we’re all guilty of it, especially during a favorite photo op like Christmas. You want the ambiance of your beautiful glowing tree, whether it’s for a do-it-yourself family portrait by the lights, or your kids feverishly ripping the wrapping off their gifts…pop goes the flash of your camera and it looks more like a deer-in-the-headlights nightmare rather than the fabulous image you saw in your viewfinder. Depending on what type of camera you have, there are several ways to get around this issue. If you have a DSLR, meaning that you can change the lens on your camera, here are a few options for you:
1. Your flash does not have to be your enemy in situations like this. If you prefer to keep your camera in auto mode, let your flash go to town, just tone it down a bit. There are lots of cool little light modifiers for pop-up flashes these days, such as The Puffer by Gary Fong, or The Lightscoop; both of which help to diffuse or bounce the light from your flash, giving it a much softer appearance. You can also go into your menu and reduce the flash output.
2. Turn off your flash! I know, scary thought…but that’s the beauty of your DSLR camera. You have total control, if you want it! One of my favorite modes to shoot in is Aperture Priority…it’s the little “Av” on your mode dial. The great thing about this mode is that the camera sets the shutter speed for you, and you get to set the aperture. The smaller the aperture number, like f/2.8 (also known as a large aperture…I know, kind of confusing), the more light your lens is letting into your camera. With a little extra ambient light, you just might be able to take your Christmas photos without any flash at all! Just make sure your shutter speed stays fast enough so that you don’t get blurry pics of the unwrapping fury. Play with it, see what works…there’s really no “right” or “wrong” way!
For point and shoot cameras, you’ll want to be sure to shoot in portrait mode. If you have a menu option that has something to do with flash exposure compensation, you might try dialing your flash down a bit, so it looks a little more natural. Depending on your camera, you also might be able to set your ISO higher, set your white balance to the little light bulb symbol (incandescent), or even set your aperture, as well. The idea is, don’t just settle on the auto mode. Have fun, try something different…you just might create the best Christmas photos your family has ever seen! — Rebecca, Rebecca Keeling Studios
3. Don’t Just “Say Cheese!”- by Kelly V.
When it comes to taking great photos for the holidays, take a cue from your little ones and be on the move!
It can be incredibly frustrating for mom and tot when you’re trying to get a squirmer to sit still for posed photo after posed photo. You may have a vision of your kids sitting perfectly by the tree wearing their Christmas best and smiling sweetly, but in reality, you’re more likely to have one playing with an ornament and the other inspecting the inside of her dress. And after 20 minutes of pleading, bargaining and bribes, perhaps even tears.
Instead of forcing them to “sit still and smile,” try making a game of it. Have them stand next to each other and tell them you’re going to count to three. When you get to three, see who can jump the highest. When they land, they’ll be grinning and looking to you to pronounce the winner — which is exactly what you want! You’ll have the attention of all of your kids at the same time and those natural smiles you know and love. If they need more direction such as “get closer,” say it with excitement and urgency. Then do it again. When they tire out, try having them sit. You’ll likely have a few minutes of their attention and keep it by asking them how much fun they just had.
If you have older kids who understand posing for a few minutes, take advantage by trying a few different angles. Don’t just stand in front of them, get down to their level by squatting, kneeling or even sitting. It will produce a much more natural result.
And don’t be afraid to get close! I know you want to show off those coordinated dresses and sweater sets, but mix it up by taking a few close-up shots, too. They’re so intimate and personal that they may just end up being your favorites! — Kelly, Kelly V Photography