The pictures included are natural moments rather than from posed photo sessions, to illustrate my points.
1. Don’t try and do too many things at once
If you can concentrate on just taking photos for a little while rather than trying to do it while cooking the dinner, talking to the relatives etc. you are likely to get better pictures. Designate yourself as the photographer, even for 15 minutes, and totally focus on it. In just that period of time the images will stop being snapshots and become more considered.

2. Photograph people doing something
Think about what will look visually interesting and hold your family’s attention. It might be unwrapping presents, playing with new toys, eating Christmas dinner or going on a walk. This avoids having pictures of everyone awkwardly grinning at the camera. Just observe people doing what they are doing and take pictures when the moment looks right. They will look relaxed and natural.

Baby boy's first taste of yogurt

3. Photograph people on their own or in small groups
The more people you have in a photograph, the more difficult it becomes to compose. The image looks too messy and someone is always blinking or not looking at their best. Isolating just one person, or a couple of people who are communicating together works much better. How can you isolate them? There are a couple of ways:

4. Get closer to your subject or zoom in
This helps make them fill the frame and removes unwanted background clutter, which abounds in the average home at Christmas time.

5. Use a shallow depth of field
If you can control the aperture on your camera set a wide aperture, which is a small number (like f2, f2.8, f 4 for example). This will throw the background out of focus, isolating your subject in the most beautiful way. Be careful about your focus point in the image – as everything else will be out of focus you really want to focus on your subject’s eyes.

6. Avoid flash if you can
Built in camera flash is often too harsh and kills any lovely ambient light in the image. Use a wider aperture (see above) or a faster ISO (800+ rather than 100) to take pictures in lower light without flash. Make use of ambient light by photographing next to large windows or lamps, which will add light and atmosphere.

7. Get down to their level
When photographing children, get on the floor with them. Become the same height as them and get into their world. In general, standing at your normal height is the worst position to take a photograph from – everything will look the same as it normally does. Try to use a different viewpoint to make your pictures more dynamic.

Young boy exploring the woods

Have a wonderful holiday season!

This post was originally published on Van Girls blog.