Thursday, December 11, 2008

Captivating Candids

Few things spark the imagination like the holiday season. Families coming together from across the country—or even across the ocean—to connect and celebrate is an event that needs to be remembered in photos for years to come. Taking great candid shots is a bit like being a sports referee—you’re doing your job well when people don’t even realize you’re there. Learning to be invisible is a powerful photographic tool to keep at the ready.

This is the perfect time to take a break from shooting all posed photos, and instead, use your camera to capture the true spirit and experiences of the holiday. Here are a few tips to help you create truly captivating candids:

Be an Observer…: Keep your camera under wraps for a bit and just watch the interaction between your loved ones. This will allow you to recognize meaningful moments and important stories to share through photography. For example, do you have a great-grandparent or two in your presence? If so, consider taking pictures of her telling your children a story or of a little one sitting in her lap. Resist the urge to come close with your camera and ask for a posed shot. Instead, stay off to the side and zoom in closely to capture the interaction. The goal is to show the moment as it happened.

…But Have Your Camera Ready: Make sure your camera is close by and ready to shoot when the opportunity arises. You’ll know when that perfect moment is at hand, and by having your camera set properly, you’ll be far more successful in getting the moment exactly as you intended.

Take the Long Road: You can keep your distance and still capture intimate shots with the help of a long zoom or telephoto lens. This lens will help you respect your subjects’ boundaries and keep you from interfering with the moment while still allowing you to get close enough to keep your images intimate.

Go Flash-Free: Nothing can break up a moment faster than a flash lighting up a room. If you have enough natural light in the room or outdoors, nix the flash to keep the moment protected. If you’re shooting in a dark area, try using your low-light setting on your camera or increase your ISO setting to help adapt to the environment.

Anticipate Traditions: If your family has standing traditions during the holiday season, make it a tradition to photograph the event. Make sure you’re ready before the activity starts by having your camera set properly, a tripod ready if needed or any other considerations. This will help keep the focus on the event itself rather than the photography of the event.

Your end result will be a photo library that chronicles your entire holiday happenings in a way that will bring a smile to your face every time you look at them.

Monday, December 01, 2008 Offers Free Checklists to Organize Holiday Shopping

Name one mom you know right now that isn't feeling stressed about holiday shopping...
Didn't think so.
Don't worry--help is on the way!

If your visions of sugarplums have been replaced with visions of shopping lists, Christmas decorations and endless errands, join the sisterhood! Some days I feel as though I’m more speed than direction.

If you’re looking for a way to tame those tasks, I’ve got a great resource. has posted some wonderful free downloadable checklists to help you keep your holiday shopping in order. They’ve also just announced their holiday discounts so if you’re looking for a great gift to give to a mom this season, consider a planner designed to manage time based upon the way a family is structured.

I can’t think of a nicer gift to give to a mom—except maybe ten pounds of chocolate truffles and a twelve-hour massage. Or a year of free car detailing. I’m pretty sure I’ve still got french fries under my seat dating back to the Clinton administration!

Get your downloadable holiday checklists here.