Taking better pictures isn’t just about learning some neat tips and tricks to improve your skills. It’s also about being inspired to take better photos.

As a photo instructor, my job is to do both: I show my students how to work their cameras better, but getting them excited about taking some cool and interesting pictures is ultimately even more important.

Don’t Be a Passive Observer

One thing I notice is that all too often us older folks sit on the sidelines of events and let the younger folks take all the pictures. It gets easier and easier to become a passive observer rather than a participant. Let’s stop that right now!

You may be thinking, “Hey, I’ve taken all the pictures I’m ever going to take,” or, “I’m too old to deal with more photos in my collection.”

I think we all know that it is way more enjoyable to take pictures than it is to deal with them, so this is more about having fun, being involved, and maybe even taking some photos along the way that we can appreciate and share with others.

Shooting Photos at Family Gatherings

I’ll be honest, I get a little restless at holiday parties and family events. Of course, I will talk and mingle, but I also like having something to do, so taking pictures keeps me energized and involved. Here are some tips and ideas for how to approach your picture taking in those situations.

Go for Genuine Shots

Everyone likes to take those posing and smiling shots, and of course, the ubiquitous Selfie has become a must at every event. I, personally, find these types of shots a bit boring. For me, candid shots are not just more interesting to photograph, but more interesting to look at as well.

I am usually a lot more intrigued looking at candid shots of myself than those where I’m smiling with the group. It’s a chance to see myself as I appear to the observer. I think other people feel that way as well, so taking some candid shots will make for a nice selection of photos to share with your family.

Zoom In

If you have a regular camera, zooming your lens to its telephoto setting can help you capture some nice candid moments. If you have a newer camera phone, you may have a telephoto setting; otherwise, just use your fingers to zoom in on the screen.

iPhone Earphones Come in Handy

If you have an iPhone and have the original earphones that came with it, you can use the volume control on the chord to take a photo.

This is a great way to take a candid shot as no one will know you are even taking the picture. It also allows you to place the camera in low or high angles to capture some different views. It has to be an Apple earphone though.

Tell a Story

Maybe it’s the old photojournalist in me, but I like to see if I can tell the story of an event. Capturing the people you spend time with should, of course, be included, as well as any special moments, but I like to take some shots of any details and close-ups I notice that also tell the story.

These pictures can break things up visually and can really add to the flavor of your story. Photos of the meal, presents, or decorations may be the most obvious, but look around and see what else is contributing to the feeling of the event; photograph what is interesting to you.

Conversely, some overall shots can give you the big picture and capture the scale of the subject or event. Most camera phones by default use a wide-angle lens. If you’re using a regular camera, zooming out to the widest angle setting will be your best option for these shots.

Maybe you have used the Panorama setting on your camera phone to take landscapes. Try using it indoors or at an event; it can take some pretty unique pictures at this setting.

Photograph Neighborhood Decorations

taking pictures holiday season

Sometimes when I am alone, I need a good excuse to get out during the holidays, so photographing the holidays lights or decorations around the neighborhood can be a fun way of getting in the spirit of things and being around others.

There is a neighborhood near me that goes a little crazy with holiday decorations, and it is always fun to take some photos of all the lights and displays.

Most cities and towns have an area where all the homes seem to be in competition to have the biggest and brightest lights. Maybe it’s time to take a visit there. Even malls and downtown areas can have brilliant displays of decorations and fun things to look at and photograph.

Remember, this is more about having fun, instead of sitting on the sidelines or feeling too old to participate. These days, we all have access to a camera – try using it to stay involved this holiday season, and go out and take some great pictures.

How are you planning to use your camera this holiday season? What pictures would you like to take? Are you bringing your camera with you to the family gathering? Where else would you like to take memorable photos? Please share with our community.

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