Christmas Photos - Just the Tip's n Tricks! / by Zack Smith

Right around now i start getting a bunch of emails from people, former students, current students, all asking about "what kind of camera should i get for xmas", "what lens should i get", or "how can i take a better family photo at Christmas dinner". Well, this Blog's for You!

Stocking Stuffers

In the small window of December when the economy seems to get a little better and we start spending that saved money on new gear, we want to make it count. It's not often we have the extra money to buy new camera gear, or even have someone that WANTS To buy it for us! (must be nice)

1) My suggestion to you: sit down for about 10 minutes and Meditate on your Photographic Year. What were you high points? Low points? Do you remember when you "just couldn't get that shot", or "couldn't get close/wide enough"? Remembering these moments will help you figure out what you really need to get better photographs, not what WANT right now in this rare moment of purchase power.

2) Follow the Light! - like the Magi followed that Star, you may be lacking in the light department if you want to do ANY Christmas family portraits indoors. If you are shooting outdoors, you are probably fine when shooting during the day. But these short daylight days get shorter when lunch lasts 4 hours and all those damn TV timeouts stretch the noon game beyond sunset! Jeez!

Check out and pickup a USED speed light that has a swivel and rotating head. The best way you will cover an entire room is to NOT use you pop up flash, but to light the whole room w/ your new speed light. Angle that puppy to the ceiling (if it's light/white colored) or bounce it behind you to the white window curtains to give you a good soft light coverage of your portrait.

3) Is it Prime Time? - I would say that if you can't find direction in the last two helpful hints, then it must be PRIME TIME! Ask yourself - "Self? (yes) what is my favorite Focal Length?" and you might answer..."i don't know...zoom?" NO! I suggest you check out your Metadata in Bridge or Lightroom and look at a group of your BEST photo shoots...then, look at the data to find out what Focal Length you:

- shot the most at
- selected the most at
- did final edits on

This will give you an idea of what your Favorite Focal length is...then, if you do not have a sharp prime version of this lens...go buy that! Example:

This is the metadata from my recent live music shoot. Looks like i hover around 50mm, 70mm, 100mm, and 200mm. This tells me i would benefit from 50mm, possibly and 85mm, or 100mm prime lens - giving me that maximum sharpness, and 2.8/1.8/1.4 possibility!!

If you have any more questions....let em fly!!!! it's open season! PULL!