Important advice when prepairing to photograph holiday scenes

Old fashioned ChristmasCredit: Javrsmith

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus and New Years are various holidays celebrated by millions of people each fall and winter. Other yearly holidays include President's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter, and more. Whatever the holiday, it usually gives you a great time to take photographs. Families and friends come together, often for the first time in years. There is a happy feeling. You can take photographs of people at their best, when they are having a great time. There are a few tips that you should think about before, during and after your holiday photo shoots. By paying attention to some of these, you can get better photos. These can become the documentation for family memories for many years to come. In no particular order, you can think of these tips:

Prepare for photography
Before a holiday event, you should take some time to prepare. Of course you should have a good camera. These days that doesn't mean you need an expensive camera. Depending on what you want to do with your photos, nearly any camera will do. They are rated in "megapixels". This refers to the number of tiny picture elements make up each shot, measured in millions. If you just want a quick record of the holidays, and you put some on the Internet, perhaps 2 to 4 megapixels will be fine. Cameras of this caliber are very inexpensive. For a little more, you can get 8-10 megapixels. These cameras will take better photos that can be clearly printed and even enlarged. The 12 and above cameras are very capable of professional looking shots. These can be blown up to poster size or zoomed in to show intricate details. They cost significantly more money, however. Whichever camera you have, before the holiday, make sure the batteries are good enough. Charge any that need it. Get spare replaceable batteries. Most custom battery packs are not too expensive. If your camera uses one of these, check online to see what a second pack costs. It's a good idea to have a charged spare. That way you can get more photos. Make sure that you have adequate memory for your photos. The flash memory used in digital cameras is not very expensive so you might want to buy at least one spare.

Check the room
When your family gathers for a holiday occasion, check the room where most of the events will be held. Which parts would look best as the background to your shots? Perhaps a nice sofa or bench is in one area. You can get some candid or posed group shots there. Maybe there is a table or bar to one side. You can get some shots of people celebrating nearby. Watch out for bright lights or shiny objects in these areas. These will be distracting to your subject matter when your photos are viewed. Perhaps you can tip spot lights away a little or move a shiny object. You can set up your shots quite a bit before. One thing that a lot of photographers do is to pose a lot of people in the same spot. You can use a particular chair for this. In effect, you will be taking portraits. This is a really good idea for getting photos of children. Years later, when they have grown, everyone will be able to see what they looked like when they were young.

Get lots of photos
Because digital cameras store electronic photos, there is no additional cost per photo. So get a lot of them. They can also be stored on your computer for free. There should be 20 or more photos from every holiday gathering. Of course not all of the shots will be good enough to display, but you should take them anyway. If you shot a lot of photos, you have a much better chance of getting some great ones. The practice will help you become a better photographer as well.

Photograph everyone, including yourself
Have you ever noticed that whenever your family gets together, there is often one or two people who don't seem to be in any of the photos? Make a point of getting everyone in at least one photo. They should be clearly shown as well. This applies to yourself as well. Often the photographer is busy taking shots so there is none of them. Families can be spread across the country or the world so they don't always get together often. Take advantage of the holidays that bring distant relatives together. Years later, you will be able to look at the photo and relive the memory of the holiday. It also gives you a chance to remember your departed loved ones from a happy time. Don't forget to get group photos. If you don't have an available volunteer to take the shot, you should practice with the camera's timer feature. This will let you set up the shot, activate the camera and give you time to move into the group yourself. Don't be shy getting the group together. Review the results on your camera screen before letting the group disperse.

Print photos
Having a lot of photos is good, but sharing them is great. You can either print them on your own printer or use a photo printing service. Many of these accept uploads over the Internet. They print the photos for a very reasonable cost and it all gets done automatically for you. You can either pick them up at a store or have them sent to you through the mail. Many of the printing services offer special deals if you prepay for 50 or more photos at once. Check out these offers and use them. When you get the printed photos, take a few minutes to mount them in photo albums. Label the photos. It can be hard to remember exactly who is in all shots, where they were taken or when. Your labels can really help remembering the event in the future.

Create photobooks
Many of the photo services offer a photobook option. This lets you arrange a number of photos in your own sequence and have them printed and bound into an album. You get the ability to label many of the pages. It is a great way to put together a photo record of a particular holiday or a collection of family photos from several holidays. Many of the photobooks will store 100 to 200 photos. There are several sizes to choose from. When you have a photobook available for viewing, it can be a fun way to share the family holiday experience. These photobooks are well worth the reasonable cost. Using the building tools over the Internet can be a little time consuming to get everything set up right, but it is definitely worth it for the results.

Backup your photos
When you have hundreds and thousands of photos, you have a digital record of family holidays. You can't ever take these photos again. It is really important that you protect your photos. Printing them is great as it lets you save them off the computer. They are obviously safe from computer crashes. You likely won't print them all though. You can easily backup your computer to protect your photos. There are monthly subscription services that handle the backups automatically or you can buy an inexpensive backup hard disk for under $100. You can also get a flash drive and use it to move photo collections to one or more computers at another family member's house. You can copy your photos to recordable disks and store these at a different location. There are a lot of different ways to backup your photos and all of your other computer files as well. You should get in the habit of regularly protecting your photos. Your photo archive is irreplaceable to both you and your family and should be protected at all times.

Upload photos
You can upload photos to online services which often give you a significant amount of photo space for free. Many of these will support web photos, that is, they reduce the resolution to save memory but still look fine on a screen. Other services will preserve the original resolution. The higher resolution photos take much more memory so you will likely have less room for all of your photos, especially when using a free photo storage account. Check out the available options to find the one that works best for your photo collection.