By Christina VanGinkel
Taking photographs during the busy Christmas holidays can often result in heads missing, group shots minus complete bodies, blurry action shots, and then some that you wonder just what in the world you were thinking when you snapped the shutter. Take heart, and know that the best of photographers often claim that some of their hardest 'jobs' have involved taking classic family photos of their very own families!
Try to remember all you have learned when it comes to the basics, such as lighting and composition, and then remember that what you are trying to capture are photographs that will let you look back at your family enjoying and experiencing this very special of holidays. Think as simple as you can, and start from there. Try not to pose family members; unless that is the type of shot, you are after. Otherwise, try to capture them in the simplicity of the spirit, kids opening presents, the family dog staring thoughtfully at the tree, mom pulling the turkey out of the oven, or dad placing a steaming pie on the counter. You may drive them all a bit crazy with all of the shutter snapping, so be sure to pass them the camera now and then so you can be on the receiving end, and they can find out why you enjoy being behind the lens. If you find this hard to do, remember that you are taking family photos, and as a part of the family, you need to be in some of the shots, not just snapping the shutter on all of them.
Head outdoors if the weather permits and be sure to capture your home in all of its Christmas finery, or the clan building a snowman or making snow angles. Catch your family decorating the outside, stringing lights on the trees, or hanging suet and seed balls they made for the birds. If sledding is part of your holiday, definitely bring along the camera for some of the best action shots ever.
If you have young children, be sure to snap a few in their favorite holiday jammas, fast asleep on their pillows, or sitting wistfully in front of the tree before Santa arrives, and after! Capture Grandma or Grandpa telling a story to the little ones, or sitting in their favorite chair having their quintessential cup of cider.
If going to cut down a tree is still in your regimen for the holidays, be sure to snap an array both picking it out and cutting it down. Where we cut our annual tree down, not only do we use an old-fashioned hacksaw, we also have to pull it back down to the barn, on the premises to pay. The snow covered trails make for opportune pictures of grandpa and his little helper tugging the tree along.
Lastly, do not forget to capture the clan late on Christmas morning, after the presents are all opened, and all are enjoying their favorite gift, or catching up on some sleep that they missed out on the night before waiting for the big day to arrive. Then head for the darkroom or the computer, and reminisce away!