Recipes: Not Just for Holiday Baking!

Recipes: Not Just for Holiday Baking!

Article & Photos By Katie Anderson, Katie is a wife, mom of two busy kids, and licensed instructor for Momtography – the photography course designed for busy parents!
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Ever had that experience of finding an amazing looking recipe on Pinterest or Facebook, only to have the reality fall short of your expectations? So often, that is our experience with taking photographs as well. Maybe you went to make an awesome slow cooker soup, and it turned into a burned-on mess? Maybe you see beautiful moments with your family, especially around the holidays, but the resulting images are seriously not Instagram-worthy.

Just like with cooking, there is a recipe that goes into great photographs! The principals below can be applied to both camera-based photography, as well as phone-photography. Here are some helpful tips to get great photographs of your family, during the holiday season and beyond…

1. Intention! Unless you are a world-class chef, most people cannot start cooking without figuring out what they are making first. Whether you are gathering groceries from the store, or pulling stuff out of your pantry and fridge, you have to have at least a loose plan of what you are hoping to create. The same goes for your photos, especially around the holidays. We tend to have very specific ideas about the images we want to have to remember the season. Don’t be afraid to set yourself up for success. Want images of your kids sitting around the Christmas tree, wrapped up in holiday lights or opening gifts? Don’t wait until Christmas Eve! Set your scene, test your settings, and put the family in their holiday jammies on a low-key evening, and shoot away. You, as well as your family, will be more relaxed and you won’t be fighting with grouchy, tired, over-sugared kids!

2. Light! Perhaps the MOST important ingredient when taking photographs is light. Too much light? You lose detail and your images will be washed out and over exposed. Too little light? Your images will be flat, dull and dark. When you are setting up to take photographs, take a few minutes to look for the light. Do you have amazing windows with great natural light? Do you need to shift things around to get better light? Do you need to adjust your settings to account for low light, or move to a different spot in the yard to avoid harsh direct sun? Generally, you will want to face your subjects towards the light, to cast that beautiful golden glow on their faces.

3. Tell a story, and don’t forget the details! What are you trying to remember with your images? A collage of images from your kiddo’s birthday party should look very different from the posed family shots from your cousin’s wedding. Sometimes, it is the little details that we want to remember. Don’t be afraid to take photographs of your child, but also zoom in on their hands digging into the dough making Chanukah treats. Is your kid obsessed with a particular Christmas decoration? Make that the focus of your image, with your child in the foreground or background.

4. Perspective! We all have a million photos of our kids standing straight on and posing for the camera. What can you do to change your perspective? How does the image change if you get above your child while they are coloring or working on a holiday project? What about if you get eye level with the table and shoot them straight on? What about if you get on the ground and let them jump above you? Changing your perspective will add texture and interest to your images.

5. Have fun! The holidays are a time of great joy! There is nothing that will have your kids running and hiding from you faster than a stressed out parent who is insisting on forcing that perfectly posed image. Make taking pictures fun! Set up a play situation for your child, so they are more engrossed in playing than posing. Set up a play fort! Let them jump on the bed (safely)! Let them throw snow at their sibling! This will result in more natural smiles, and spontaneously joyful images.

Last, but not least, don’t be afraid to put the camera away! Often we get so engrossed in capturing the perfect image that we become buried in the camera instead of focusing on the most important thing – the moments happening around you! Don’t be afraid to put your “big camera” away, and snap a few images with your phone camera. Be present in the moment, and we wish you the happiest of holidays!