Tips for taking great pictures this holiday season

Friday, November 23, 2007 | 3:00 p.m. CST; updated 10:51 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

This holiday season, use these tips to take frame-worthy photographs:

  • Use a plain background. Before pressing the shutter, make sure a tree branch or a candlestick does not seem to be sprouting out of your sister’s head.
  • Move in. Get closer to your subjects to better capture their emotions.
  • Kneel. If you are photographing children, get down on their level.
  • Don’t center your subject. Photographers call this the “rule of thirds.” Imagine your picture separated into a grid of nine squares and situate your subject on one of the four intersections.
  • Read the manual. There may be a self-timing function that allows you to jump into the family portrait.
  • Get outside. Lighting in the evening is ideal, so if it’s not too cold, head out for a quick shot on the porch.
  • Take candids. The lineup on the couch is a great way to document who came to dinner, but pictures of your family talking, laughing, cooking, eating or playing games together will show more personality.
  • Count to three. Holding a smile long enough for you to take a picture with each aunt’s camera can be tough for your 5-year-old nephew. Have your subjects smile on the count of three, or tell a joke to capture true grins.
  • Quantity can lead to quality. If you are shooting digitally, it doesn’t cost more money for you to take more pictures. Professional photographers often shoot dozens of pictures to get one usable shot.

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