Simplifying The Holidays: Easy & Fabulous Photography Tips

photographer.JPGI met Amie Adams of Mamma Loves… at the Brand About Town inaugural advisory board retreat in October, during which time I was struck not only by Amie's warmth, humor, and smarts, but by her photography skills. You could almost see the wheels turning when something would attract her eye and she’d pause briefly, capture the perfect image, then resume conversation. It seemed natural and effortless; clearly a part of her creative flow. So I’m thrilled that today, for the tenth installment of my Simplifying the Holidays guest blog series, Amie shares easy and fabulous tips for capturing gorgeous photos this holiday season.

+ + + + +

From Amie:

I received a call from a friend recently. She was a little frantic, what with juggling four kids and their homework and family coming in town over the weekend for their annual hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. We were scheduled for a photo shoot of all of the cousins and she wanted to settle on the details.

“We’re having a major discussion over what the kids should wear” she said. What they should wear? “Do your kids always dress alike?” I asked, knowing her house is as crazy as mine and that like me, she’s lucky if her kids choose clothing that is appropriate for the weather.

“Let’s capture them as they are,” I suggested. “Let’s tell the story of who they are right now.”


Does that take the stress off of your holiday photos a little? I hope so.

When you’re capturing this holiday season for posterity, think about the story you want to tell. What are the details that make your celebration memorable? Each family has its own traditions. What are yours? What is special about this year? Your children will never be this age again.

Pick up your camera and try to shoot those details that will make you smile when you see them again in February or July. Get up close. Not every shot needs to contain a smiling face.


I promise you’ll like those photos better than the one of all of the kids lined up in front of the tree—unless listening to your kids whine and complain and fighting with them to smile at the same time is a big tradition in your house.

Now how do you capture those details in a pleasing way? You have more power in your point and shoot then you ever imagined. And if you own a DSLR and you’ve never switched out of auto mode, we have to talk.

1. Whether you own a point and shoot or a DSLR, there is a portrait setting on your camera. It usually looks like a person’s head. Switch over to the portrait setting for those close up shots. You’ll notice that you’ll get shots that leave your subject in focus and the background a bit blurrier. Pros refer to that as depth of focus. The rest of us just call it awesome.


2. Take your subjects outside to capture the action if it isn’t too cold. Morning and late afternoon light is the best for avoiding harsh shadows.


3. Need to stay inside? That’s okay. Move to the closest window. Have your subject stand near the window and stand to their side to capture the light falling on their face.


4. Work off a few of those extra holiday calories by moving around a bit. Take your shots from different angles. If you’re shooting kids, get down to their eye level. If you want to get closer to your subject, move your feet, not your zoom button. Crawl under the tree and see what kind of shot you get shooting up into the branches. Changing your position can result in more interesting photos.


5. Changing the position of your subject in your viewfinder will definitely result in more interesting photos. Don’t center your subjects. Photographers think about photos in thirds—whether horizontally or vertically. Place your subject off-center. If your subject is landscape, don’t center the horizon line.


Have fun with your camera this holiday season. Try these tricks and shoot away. The greatest part about digital is that mistakes don’t cost you a thing.

+ + + + +

When Amie Adams isn’t getting ready for the holidays, chasing her three boys, running off to work, or practicing her photography, she’s sharing embarrassing stories or ranting and raving on her blog Mamma Loves… You can follow Amie on Twitter at @mammaloves.

+ + + + +

Image 1 credited to All remaining images credited to Amie Adams.