I know, I know. Your fridge is already full of a frozen turkey that is supposed to thaw by Thursday (if not, take this as a reminder!) and you’re so busy cleaning up the spare room so your mother doesn’t have anything to comment about that picture making is probably the last thing on your mind.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be heading to someone else’s house for the day; now you’re just trying out recipes because you’re sick of your sister-in-law’s perfect apple pie being the talk of of the day (doesn’t she know Sara-Lee stamps the bottom of the tin?) and you want some credit for real cooking.
Either way, everyone knows you’re the photog in the family, and they have some high expectations for what you’ll produce. I’d like to help you not fail. Who’s going to help me?
1. Use the UV Filter
If you’re like me, you’ve read those excellent books by Scott Kelby, The Digital Photography Book, Volumes 1-3 and you’ve probably taken his advice. If not, you’ve probably taken the advice of the sales guy at Best Buy and everyone at the camera club, and you have a UV filter on the front of your lenses. **It should be a warning to you when the sales guy is suggesting you buy extra stuff**
We all put these little pieces of glass on the front element of our lenses because Kelby talks about when Laurie Excell dropped her lens on the sidewalk and they heard the glass shatter, but it was just the UV filter–whew! However, did we also notice that time when he was walking the streets of New York with Jay Maisel and Jay wouldn’t let him make photos with either his lens hood or his filter on the front?
The filter is supposed to protect your lens. Ok. But it also reduces contrast and increases flare by being a flat piece of glass not accounted for by the optical engineers in Japan. So, I usually remove mine and get sharper, clearer pictures because of it. I use one when I’m at the beach because I can just rinse the salt spray off under the tap; otherwise it’s off.
But as long as you’ve got that great lens protector on, let’s use it! Get in close. Put your camera in the sink while the potatoes are being washed, get brown suger splashed on it while serving yams, pour gravy over it and shoot away!–heck, even Fido’s slobber will wash off easily. Don’t worry, the magical UV filter will protect all! Your mileage may vary.
Fill the frame with your subjects. If you are standing at the end of the table and use the center focus point of the viewfinder to focus on Dad carving the turkey, half of the picture will be wall and ceiling. It’s a fine moment recorded, but you’ll have a lot more punch to your image if you put dad at the top with the table spilling forth into the picture–or shoot over dad’s shoulder while he carves and everyone is watching.
Just make sure that you’re filling the picture with the important stuff. When you think you’re close enough, take two steps closer. We don’t need to see mom and the sink and the counter and her feet–just her hands scrubbing spuds.
2. Keep the Camera On
Are you a photographer or aren’t you? The answer lies in whether or not you have a camera handy to make a picture. Keep it in hand, and keep it on (in fact, with point and shoot cameras especially, your battery will last longer if you just keep it on–the lens moving in and out all the time at power up is a serious drain).
Shoot that moment when the grandkids walk in and give grandma a big hug. Shoot the turkey coming out of the oven. Shoot Dad cheering as the team scores. Shoot the strike at the bowling alley (what, you don’t turkey bowl?). Shoot it all. But, you’ll only catch these moments if you have the camera on and handy.
Is this your first Thanksgiving alone or with your spouse? Shoot lots! It’ll fill the time and make a very memorable holiday that you can share, and your mom will be relieved and think you had a good time even though your rolls were more tortilla-like than hers ever were.
3. Open the Flood Gates
I am a full time photographer, and right now is a very busy time of year, and it’s only getting worse. People are realizing that the holidays are almost here (uh, day after tomorrow!) and they haven’t hada family picture in ages and it’d be good on a Christmas card, too, so let’s go get a picture made! It’s getting busy around here. I love it.
At the same time, what’s the point in being a photog if you can’t make pictures for your own family? Naturally, they want pictures, and, depending on how much you’ve been practicing and how badly you offended family members last time, you’re probably the first person who comes to mind to make pictures for them. Do us all a favor: don’t charge your family for pictures.
Notify your family that you would be pleased to make pictures for them during the holiday, and suggest a time that doesn’t interfere with ball games and shopping and cooking. Go ahead and open the gates, let the pictures flow! These are the most important pictures you make, so don’t hold back.
With my clients, I invite them to my studio to view the pictures and make some solutions for putting big pictures on the walls. My family, however, doesn’t live anywhere near me, so that’s not going to work. Instead I use Smugmug to host the images and show them to my family. They can even order prints and download images directly from there without emailing me to ask for this one as an 8×10 and that one as a 4×6 and which one did I order before? It’s really a great place to show, share, and even sell (but not to family, ‘member?) and I use it daily, and it’s integrated into Lightroom3 already. One of the best things about Smugmug is that you are allowed to store as many pictures there as you want at full resolution. That means terabytes and terabytes can be stored there and it’s waaaaaaay cheaper than buying drives every black friday, and your pictures are accessible anywhere in the world anytime and they don’t burn down with the house. Pretty good solution.
So, get in close to the subjects that make the holidays worthwhile, keep that camera on and make some great images of your family and friends this season!