7 tips to for better holiday photos and home videos


Dec. 20, 2010 at 6:20 a.m.

The holiday season is upon us again, which means frazzled homeowners preparing for company and the inevitable home movie or photo shoot because - hey - it's the one time of year the entire family is together.

But, with their blurred images and shaky shots, amateur pictures and videos often leave something to be desired.

Here are some tips to help you better document your holidays.

Pay attention to framing.

The way a shot is framed can mean the difference between amateur and professional-looking photos and videos. Remember the rule of thirds. Picture the camera screen as a sort of tick-tack-toe board and keep the subject's eyes on or near the top line. If the person is facing left, have the body in the right frame of the shot. If the person is looking right, frame him on the left side of the screen.

Consider colors and patterns.

Dress people in colors that coordinate. Reds and greens work well for holiday pictures, but candy cane stripes and wild patterns tend to distract from people's faces.

Avoid using the 'zoom' on videos.

Think wide when shooting home movies. Zooming in on a subject not only changes the perspective and feel, but also makes it more difficult to hold the camera steady. The resulting shot will most likely be shaky. Instead, get physically closer to the subject.

Be aware of lighting.

People watch videos because they want to see what's going on. Make sure the lighting is adequate enough to see the subject and make for a flattering shot. Bright light behind subjects typically makes them appear dark, as in a silhouette, but light directly overhead often gives people dark circles under their eyes. Each setting is different, however, and it never hurts to play around with the lighting to find just the right combination.

Get away from typical holiday shots.

It's OK to get pictures of people in front of the Christmas tree, but also take them outside where they can be more comfortable and relaxed. It incorporates some variety to the mix.

Consider sound.

Most camcorders come with built-in microphones, but they tend to pick up other sounds in the room. If a subject is giving a speech, get closer to get the clearest audio. For even better sound, consider purchasing a wireless microphone from an electronics store. Some stores sell them for less than $100 and they can make a big difference.

Remember more is more.

A shooter should always take more video or photos than necessary. Not only does it allow more to options to choose from, but the images and video also become family record. The greatest family moments are the impromptu ones, so keep the camera rolling. It's always easy to excess videos or images if necessary.

Sources: Ben Price, production department manager for Agama Advertising, and Danny Vivian, owner of Danny Vivian Photography



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