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How to Get Great Photos at Your Holiday Gatherings

Holiday gatherings are right around the corner.

And whether you attend one or 21 holiday gatherings, you’ll want to take pictures that capture the moments you wish you could relive over and over. The perfect family shots. The expressions on your kids’ faces. Close-ups of holiday decorations.  

We talked to Grant Foreman from the Camera Experience Shop at our Best Buy store in Jacksonville, Florida, to get a few holiday photo tips.

Group shots

The holidays provide a rare opportunity to get photos of your extended family members or far-flung friends. And there’s a good chance they will be looking their best.

The challenge with indoor photos, though, is making sure there’s enough light.

“The biggest thing that people find with indoor photography, especially with cellphones, is motion blur and photos not turning out because either the photographer moved or the subject moved leaving a blurry picture,” Grant said.

If you’re shooting with a DSLR, he recommends:

  • Be careful when using a flash. The built-in flash on a camera will illuminate the subject, but it can lead to harsh shadows and make people look unflattering. Get extra light indoors by using an external flash and bouncing the light off the ceiling for more natural lighting.

For cellphone pics, Grant says:

  • The more light you can get on your subject, the better. If you have to bring in lamps from other rooms or move closer to windows, do it. The photos will turn out better.

Lastly, don’t forget to use a tripod and the timer on the camera so you can hop in a few pictures yourself.

Candid moments

Group pics are great, but the best photos are often the ones where someone has a natural smile or is laughing.

“Telling someone to smile and say ‘cheese’ gets the grin. But an actual, genuine smile happens in the eyes, not the mouth,” Grant said.

To capture those candid photos, he suggests setting yourself apart from the action. Get some distance and consider a longer lens.

“Move away from the subject so people don’t realize there’s a camera around. When people see a camera, they may get uncomfortable and act less natural,” Grant said. “The less people know there is a camera around the better, because that’s when human interaction is at its greatest. “

And don’t just take a whole bunch of pictures by holding the shutter down. Wait for the exact moment when someone laughs, then click. If you force yourself to wait for the right photo, you’ll often end up with better results.

Detail shots

Besides getting candid and group shots of family and friends, the only thing you need to make the best memory book ever is to grab some close-ups of the food and holiday décor.

For a DSLR, macro lenses are great for capturing these details because they can allow for up to life-size reproduction of the subject. There are many different ranges of macro lenses, from wide angle to telephoto. The closer you can get to the subject with a macro lens, the more the texture will pop.

“Being able to capture not only the detail but the texture of the item in question can make for amazing pictures,” Grant said. “With candles, for example, you can almost feel the wax through the picture.”


Want more ideas for how to get the perfect shot? Check out the photography tips and tricks on Bestbuy.com, as well as our 5 Tips For Great DIY Holiday Card Photos. Or stop by your local Best Buy store to talk with a digital imaging expert.