A version of this article originally appeared in The Yankee Clipper.
As the leaves turn and the air gets a chill, thoughts of the holidays start to appear. It’s a time of year when friends and family gather together to celebrate the times that were and the year that will be. Often it’s the only time you’ll see some people all year, so it’s a great opportunity for pictures.
“Two of my most important reminders for the family photographer are to lower your expectations, and keep the camera ready but remember to stay in the moment,” said Cindy Dow, of Wood Brook Photography and associate editor for the Middleborough Gazette.
Snapshots are about capturing moments and memories. The best holiday photographs spark a memory of a special time that you shared with the people you care about, not the ones that you want to hang in an art gallery.
“Sometimes we can have our ideal image so clearly etched in our minds that the kids end up in tears and we end up frustrated because we aren't getting what we're striving for, when what we ought to be striving for is the happy memories we want the pictures to portray,” Dow added.
Staying in the moment is a lot easier when you get to know your camera. Read the manual and practice, the great advantage of digital is that you can review what you shot right away and keep trying until you’ve found the problem. This way when you have your camera in hand you won’t miss those little moments – like a child unwrapping a present – because you used the wrong setting.
Ken Sutton, owner of K-Ellis Photocenter at 37 Faunce Corner Rd. in North Dartmouth, has heard a lot of horror stories of dads pulling out new cameras from a package and causing a lot of frustration while trying to figure out the latest gadget. To prevent this struggle, Sutton had two suggestions:
“Go back to the old camera that you know, rather than sitting around and waiting for the photographer to get the picture right,” he said.
The second is to consider giving the instruction manual to the camera a little early. While this gift might spoil the surprise of a brand new camera, it will certainly help to better capture those special holiday memories.
Getting to know a camera also starts at the store when you’re deciding what camera to purchase. The market for digital cameras is incredibly competitive and Sutton said that by sticking to name brand manufacturers you could find a great camera to fit any budget. A knowledgeable sales staff can help you know what might work best for shooting pictures of sports, taking videos, or even for gifting to the least tech savvy on your list.
Perhaps the most important tip of all this holiday season is that photos are meant to be shared with family and friends. While Facebook and e-mail have made it easy to share photos with loved ones around the country and around the world, it’s easy for those special images to get drowned out in the holiday rush. Printing and sharing your photos in a card or in a frame is a great way to make an image stand out and be remembered.
“Nothing is as impersonal as an e-mailed picture,” Sutton said.