• Rich Engelbrecht

The holidays are almost upon us


The holidays are family and friends time. When family gathers, wherever it might be, and whomever the people are, the cameras come out to record the occasion. You may want to consider a bit of pre-planning and even staging getting those photos. The relatives get together and you get to see people you haven’t seen in years. You want to capture this moment of family history, and preserve it for the generations to come.


Your first inclination is to get them to all line up, maybe by family group, maybe by size, maybe by age, but they turn out looking like group mug shots. It’s time to do a bit of preparation to get a picture that you can be proud of and goes into the front of the family album.


First you all want to look like a family. This doesn’t mean that everyone wears the exact same shirts and pants; that just make you look like a cult. You will want to coordinate with your family members ahead of time and ask for coordinating and complimentary colors; not matching colors.


Time to go to a color wheel [type in “color wheel” in your search engine]. Complementary colors are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For instance, yellow is directly across from the color purple, red is across from green, and blue is across the wheel from orange. Complementary colors typically go well together, brightening the other one just by being nearby.


Analogous colors are often paired together because they fade into each other on the color wheel. For instance, yellow fades into orange, making a yellow-orange tertiary color in the middle. Because they are near each other, they blend well when trying to coordinate colors.


Avoid mixing warm and cool colors for the most part. Warm colors include orange, red, and yellow, while cool colors include greens, blues, and purple. When you understand this division, it can make it easier to coordinate colors, as you can match cool colors with cool colors and warm colors with warm ones.


Planning ahead might include figuring out what kind of shots you want. For example, if you have a holiday cookie baking event with children or grandchildren, jot down a couple things to remember to ensure you get those special pictures. In this example you may want to get a shot with:

  • People holding the ingredients

  • Mixing ingredients

  • Children or family setting and filling the baking sheets

  • Family holding and enjoying the finished product.

This sort of process and procedure can be applied to almost any family event, like getting the meal ready for Thanksgiving, with a final shot of everyone around the table saying grace. {you could use a tripod and learn how to set your camera to delay taking the image for a few seconds, so everybody can be in it.


Another example is taking the children to see relatives. Take some pictures of getting ready, the ride to, and the greeting at the door.


Sometimes you may even want some props, like wrapped presents, a wreath, or perhaps an elegantly set table. Make sure you have what you want in the shot all set to go before you try to get impatient children and adults to gather for the shot.


Tell everyone what it is you are trying to do and solicit their cooperation. Tell them ahead of time what colors you want them to wear, without getting to specific. As I said earlier, don’t line people up to look like mug shots, these types of pictures just aren’t interesting.


So what do you do with a group? Depending on your scenario, [remember baking cookies?], place everyone in the kitchen doing something pertaining to the baking, and remember to tell them to look at you [the photographer]. Take a bunch of pictures. This helps to make sure that everybody’s eyes are open and everyone is looking at you.


Bottom line, to get those memorable holiday pictures, don’t be afraid to do a bit of preparation and communicate what you are looking for to elicit everybody’s cooperation and participation.


I do have a lot of family photos of the holidays, but I am not going to share those because they are personal and I don’t have permission from them to publish those images. I am including one of Kooper “the Dim” all decked out for the holidays. However, to get some great examples of this type of photography, go on-line and search, for example: “holiday picture suggestions”. This link to the website Shutterfly provides some ideas: https://www.shutterfly.com/ideas/christmas-photo/