In these busy times most of our precious holiday memories are out of our heads by the Fourth of July, just to make room for everything else we are bombarded with each day! We all rely on photographs to help those memories out over the years and the most cherished photos are not that difficult to take and can even be framed and used as gifts for the next holiday season, birthdays, or just to share your memories of love with your family and friends.

Here are some proven tips that we have learned over the years that can make you happy and proud of your holiday picture taking skills. Those of us that are older unfortunately have a shoebox of memories not at all fit for framing because they all seem to consist of too much flash/light, subjects that are too far away, strange things in the background ruining the picture or just a photo that wasn’t ready to be taken. The old theory that to take a picture you must tell the subjects to line up, hands to their sides and say, “Cheese!” results in many shoeboxes in our closets full of those same old pictures.

Follow these tips and you will be much happier with the results. The cameras these days go a long way to helping your photos be more professional so if you choose a good one it will help the quality of your pictures surprise even you! Today’s cameras and phones even let you see the results of your budding talents on the spot so you should have no excuses from now on! Just pay attention to what you are doing. You can change your picture taking ways with a little patience and lots of practice. Get out there and do it!

(1) Camera Settings

If you have a camera with adjustable settings, read the directions or ask someone who knows what to do. Those settings are there just to help you. You will get some amazing results if you pay attention to them. Become familiar with your camera so you don’t have to fool around and lose the picture you wish you had taken. That goes for cell phone cameras too if that is what you use.

(2) Flash

Limit your use of the flash. A flash has ruined many a picture that otherwise would have been really good. We use the flash setting rarely. Today’s low-light cameras will provide a much softer, beautiful picture.

(3) Posing

Take most of your photos without posing the subject. Keep your camera with you at all times as some of the greatest pictures happen on the spur of the moment and if you are not ready that great shot will be quickly gone, never to return.

(4) Close Ups

Take lots of close ups. A little child’s hands opening a gift. A drowsy head on a soft Christmas pillow. Little feet in their new Christmas slippers. Wide little eyes gazing at the tree or up to Santa’s old face. The opportunities are endless.

(5) Objects

Don’t limit your pictures to just people. Take a nice close up of the beautiful ornaments on your tree or around the house. Decorations make wonderful pictures and are a nice addition to the people pictures if you make albums. One of our favorite close up pictures from last year is of our little grandson’s tiny hand tugging on Santa’s snowy beard. No faces involved. Just a little hand and an old grizzled beard. A picture like that makes a perfect story for your imagination to fill in! Take some beautiful photos of the Christmas dinner and the lovely table setting. A nice close up of a juicy Christmas turkey is great and will make the cook feel more appreciated too! “Gee, he took a portrait of my turkey!” is fun to hear!

(6) Background

Pay attention to your background! This is one of the most important tips you can use for better picture taking! If it’s a spur of the moment type picture then often it can’t be helped and you’ll have to resort to editing but, if not, you can wait that extra second or two for that weird stranger to pass out of the shot or that car to go by. Be aware of what you’re looking at and take the time to make sure everything in that frame is what you really want.

(7) Editing

Take the time to edit and crop your pictures. We would say that nine out of ten pictures can be improved by simple computer editing. It’s simple. Learn how to do it. We’ve edited some pictures that were actually bad and useless on first look but by cropping out certain things and adjusting the color or lighting another really good picture can be ready for posting on Facebook! What our technology allows us to accomplish these days is amazing. Take full advantage of your photography tools and these few tips and your friends and family will be asking you when you had time to take a photography class at your local junior college! Merry Christmas to all and to all some great pictures!

-Carlos and Ava Schott

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