How not to take a holiday photo

How not to take a holiday photo?

holiday photo tips

On a crisp winter’s day with a bright cloudless sky, my family and I went out to choose our Christmas tree. After finding the perfect one, I set up my kids in front of it to take what I thought would be the perfect shot. The scene looked terrific and the kids great. So, why didn’t I get my shot? There were a number of things I didn’t do (described below) that would have made this a very memorable shot.

So that you don’t suffer the same fate, here’s a short list to check before taking your holiday shots with your digital camera:

  • Charge your battery: The biggest problem I had this day was that after shooting three photos, my digital SLR went dead. It was out of power. This usually wouldn’t be a problem, since I always have a spare battery (fully charged) on hand. But, in order to lighten my load, I decided to leave my camera bag at home, which is where my battery is stored. So, one important rule is to always fully charge your batteries, and have your spare batteries on hand. Without them, there’s no photo.

  • Bring a lens hood for outdoor shots: A lens hood, which fits over the front of your lens and prevents things like lens flare from happening, is another item I forgot to bring with me. If you look at the photo, just below my daughter, you can see the effects of lens flare. So, remember to bring the proper equipment with you to your shoot.
  • Make sure your subjects are in focus: In this photo, I accidentally focused on the evergreen tree on the left side of the photo instead of my kids, who are a bit out of focus. What I should have done was either set the focus point of my SLR on my children, to ensure that the camera would only focus on them, or increase the f/stop to f/11 or f/16, which would increase the depth of field and keep most of the scene in focus. Of course, if I had had more battery power, I would have zoomed in when I reviewed my photos on the LCD in order to check that I had my kids in focus. So, this problem could have been rectified if I’d had a fully charged battery.
  • Check your ISO setting: Although I didn’t mess up the ISO in this photo, it’s something to always check. In a bright outdoor setting like this, you don’t need to use a high ISO setting. So, in this type of shot, you should set your camera’s ISO to 100. I once shot an Easter egg hunt at 1600 ISO, and the photos were very noisy or grainy. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do after the fact to remedy those flaws. So, be sure to check your ISO settings before you start shooting.

Do you have any tips for taking a holiday photo? Let us know.

—Terry Sullivan


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