1. Plan ahead! Before you leave for the holiday celebrations, replace your batteries, clear your memory cards, clean your lens, and at least make a mental check list of the events for which you would like to be most prepared. The only reason we ever miss the once-in-a-lifetime moment is because we simply weren't ready when it came.
2. The secret to taking uncomfortable, contrived photos is always saying, "Look over here!" or "Smile for the camera!" Instead, let things flow naturally as though you are an observer documenting a visual story and true reactions. If you desire to see more of your subject's face in the photo, move yourself and get in front of them.
3. Get down on the ground and take the photos of kids opening or playing with new gifts at eye level. You will cherish a photo at their level because it allows you to better relate to how they see and feel the moment. A photo taken at your comfortable standing position of the tops of their heads is one that will never receive a second look.
4. Rather than trying to always get everything in the shot, simplify and seek out the little moments, the minor details, and smaller groups of people at a time. The wonderful irony in focusing on the smaller pieces is that you end up with a more complete picture.
5. Photograph every gift being opened. You never know which gift will have a profound impact on a child’s development until years later. It will be a great family moment someday to rediscover the photo with that one forgotten gift and be flooded with memories of how significant it was.
6. Give the kids a camera and say, "Go take some pictures for me." It will be raw and many could be a waste, but there is something special about finding those glimpses of Christmas moments as seen through a child's own eyes.
7. Don't forget to photograph the preparations. The preparations and traditions we sometimes take for granted are made with great care and help set the scene of for these special memories.
8. Watch the Heads. Unless you are creating a photo dart board, heads usually don’t belong in the dead center of the frame. Instead, try and move the frame of the camera so the heads are a little off center.
9. Turn your camera on its side. We tend to default to landscape orientation because it’s what feels most natural with the way we hold the camera. To add new variety to your photos, try frequently turning the camera on its side for portrait orientation. This is especially great when photographing people.
10. Take a meaningful single portraits of every person celebrating the holidays like it is the last one you will ever take, because you never know how long you have with the ones you love.
11. Move in even closer, but not by using the zoom. I mean, when you think you are close, physically move in even closer for the shot to reinforce a deeper, more personal connection.
12. Large groups take more care. One or two shots of a large group won’t cut it because someone always blinks. A pro secret is to take lots of photos, hoping one will turn out right. If it doesn’t, then simply use an editing program to paint Blinky’s eyes back in from another photo.
13. Overexpose in the snow. This seems weird, but snow scenes trick the camera and make the images appear too dull and dark. Most cameras have a built in snow scene mode you can use. If yours does not, this can also be done by adjusting the exposure compensation settings up to take brighter photos.
14. Avoid the in camera flash whenever possible. Turn off your camera’s internal flash and turn up the available light in the room. This provides fuller, more natural lighting in your images.
15. Don't get too caught up in trying to find the perfect photo. Photography is really about the bonds we share with the ones we love at key moments in our lives. What matters most is that you were there, engaged, and part of the story.
What holiday photo tips do you have? Leave a comment and tell us about them!