top 5 photography tips to capture your visit home for the holidays

Well, folks, the holidays are almost here, and chances are that you’re going to be getting a few days off traveling at some point in the next few days, or someone is traveling to spend time with you.  And family baggage aside, the potential of running into at least one or two awesome family or friend moments is high.  So since I’m the kind of photographer who loves to capture a good moment, I thought I’d share with you my top 5 subjects to look out for to photograph and memorialize the holidays.   Before I begin, however, let me state upfront that my rule for image-gathering at these sorts of things is go for ambiance rather than perfection.  You’ll see some photographs below that technically are horrifying (I took some of them ages ago), but the emotion that they capture is pretty evident — and really, that’s the whole point of photography, don’t you think?

I do, anyway.

So let’s begin:

1.  Greetings.  Remember that opening scene in Love Actually, when Hugh Grant’s disembodied voice talks about how much he enjoys watching people in the arrivals hall of Heathrow Airport?  Man, me too:  there’s nothing I love more than the spontaneous joy that people express when they see someone they love for the first time in a long while.

So when you’re at the airport waiting for someone, or sitting at home waiting for the doorbell to ring (or are the person doing the arriving), have your camera at the ready to capture the hugs and fist-bumps and “It’s so you great to see you again, you look well!” pronouncements that are bound to happen in those first few seconds.  And again, don’t freak out about technical proficiency here:  I promise you’re going to love the resulting shots for years to come (like I love the one of my husband coming into the Houston Intercontinental Airport arrivals hall a few years ago, above).

2.  Get pictures of the kids.  I love Christmas with a white-hot passion, but even I have to admit that the holidays are generally all about the kids.  And if your family is like my family, the holidays are often some of the few times that all of the cousins get together.  So be sure to grab your camera and get some great shots of the kids all playing together, but also grab a few nice, tight portraits of them as well.  As they grow, these shots, taken at particularly special family-times, will end up being great chronicles of how they grow up together.  Who knows — maybe a print of one of your shots might end up in their dorm rooms as a cherished memory when they go off to college.

3.  Capture images of everyday chores.  Some of my favourite parts of family coming together is how everyone sort of pitches in to help, and slowly eases into feeling at home.  So at some point during all of the chaos, grab your camera and capture some of the everyday moments:  your husband’s hands covered in flour as he makes the holiday cookies, your sister lighting a fire, your brother bringing out the turkey, everyone gathering around the table before the meal.  By tapping into your inner photojournalist, you’ll end up getting some great shots of the atmosphere and energy of the visit.


4.  Rediscover your home town.  Let’s face it:  sometimes too much togetherness can sometimes be a lot.  So at some point during your visit, grab an opportunity to take a little breather and walk around your hometown, recapturing some of your favourite memories and marveling at how much everything has changed (or how much they’ve stayed the same).


5.  Grab a shot of everyone together.  I know, I know — it might feel highly cheesy to do, but seriously, when are you all going to be getting together again?  Besides, one of my favourite photographs of my father’s is one of him and his 8 brothers and sisters (in order) with their parents, taken one Christmas years ago:  they were all adults at the time, and it was one of the few times they were all together again.  There’s nothing like looking back at photos like that and laughing at the outdated fashions.  Trust me, 10 years from now you’ll thank me when you do this.

A tip:  doing this is really best with a tripod, so you can set the timer on your camera and run back into the shot.  In fact, I’m going to suggest you take 2 shots:  one of all of you posed and smiling sweetly, but the second one with everyone making a face, or doing a group hug or whatever.  You’ll love and laugh at the outcome, and everyone will be asking you for copies of the shot.

With that, happy holidays, everyone.  If you’re traveling, be safe, and in any case, I hope your holidays (and your images!) are full of love and laughter.


Thanks very much to the good folks at Dell for sponsoring this post, and for providing me with a considerably awesome Inspiron All-in-One computer! To read more about what families at Babble are doing with technology, please be sure to check out the Dell Family Tech section of Babble Voices.

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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