The idea of Thanksgiving often brings to mind family, friends, food, football and, well, thankfulness, for all that the year has brought so far. This year, we’d like to encourage you to have some fun with your photography and consider moving from simple snapshots to storytelling.

Have a Plan (It’s Easier than You Think!): We all know how frantically busy our schedules are between now and New Year’s Day. That said, a little bit of planning now could save substantial time all through the holidays by helping you be fully prepared for every photo opportunity.

Take a few minutes to consider how many people will be gathering this year and what you hope to accomplish. For example, which room would be best for photographing family? One that has a nice amount of available light and a bit of space to pose is far superior to one that is dark and cramped. What about the table setting? How do you envision people positioned? You don’t have to have all the answers. Just start considering the possibilities and the answers will come.

Get Your Gear in Order: Check your camera bag to ensure you have everything you need. Have your batteries fully charged, or if you use AA batteries, have an extra set packed and ready to go. Do you have a tripod? If you’ve often wished you had a tripod but have yet to purchase one, consider doing this before the holiday season kicks into high gear. A quality tripod can open up numerous possibilities in terms of shooting and posing. Plus, a tripod provides stability, which translates into sharper images.

Create a Shot List: A shot list is essentially an outline of which photos you’d like to take during an event. For example, if you have a large family grouping, you might include the entire family, and smaller groups on your list. This takes just a minute or two and can spur your creativity and keep you from forgetting important shots. Will you want a photo of the turkey carving? The kids jumping in leaves? The table setting before everyone is seated? Think of the overall story you hope to share through your photos. A bit of thought now can make a positive impact on your final results.

Tackle Tough Issues in Advance: If you’re concerned about how to fit the entire table in a shot or have struggled in past years to capture the kind of images you had hoped to create, consider taking some time in advance to work out the kinks of your shoot. For example, would a stool and a tripod make a difference? Do you need to have additional lighting in the room but didn’t have time to figure out what would work best? Grab an extra lamp and ask a family member to pose for a few minutes and then analyze your results. And consider a portable lighting solution:

This experiment can transform your Thanksgiving photography experience because you’ve had time to figure out what works, and you’ll be more comfortable behind the camera when the holiday arrives.

Take it Outdoors: If the weather permits, consider taking part or all of your family outdoors. Use that great rock wall by the front of the house or a majestic tree as a backdrop. For those fortunate enough to have turning leaves and a burst of fall colors, incorporate those elements into your photos. If small children are included, consider taking photos earlier in the day when they may be more cooperative. If they grouse at being posed and photographed, let them play and interact and shoot candids instead. Don’t expend too much energy getting a perfect posed picture; instead, make the overall mood and sentiment the priority.

Learn to Use Your Timer: Many of us are guilty of being left out of family photos because we’re the ones taking the pictures. If this is the case, make it mandatory to learn the timer delay functions on your camera (and remember your tripod!) so that you’ll be in the photos this year. For even more convenience, consider a wireless camera remote or perhaps a remote with a timer:

Your family surely misses seeing you in the pictures!

Once the holiday is over, these photos can be transformed into gifts such as enlarged framed photographs, digital scrapbooks or other gifts for the upcoming Christmas & Hanukah season. We’d be happy to help you create personalized gifts with your images so stop by our store or send us an email. We’re ready to help!

Joel Paymer
Camera Land