This year, our holidays will be very different. With the Corona Virus limiting travel and group sizes, many of us will have trouble recreating holidays of the past. It’s a time to be flexible in the extreme. However, it’s not a time to forget about shooting holiday photos! In fact, this year we have an opportunity to document our holiday experiences during a pandemic and save our photos and thoughts for the future.
Try using different cameras.
Why not pull out all of your cameras? Of course, you have your iPhone or other mobile device, but do you have an old point-and-shoot? This is a perfect starter camera for younger children. And you’ll definitely want to include the kids. Grab your DSLR or mirrorless camera, too.
Now, charge all the batteries and clean off and format old memory cards. Sadly, when I tried this with my old Canon Elf point-and-shoot, it no longer worked. I hope you have better luck!
It’s important to have the cameras handy around the house, close to where the action will take place. That way, you have half a chance of capturing a candid moment involving your child or pet. They do not wait for you to go and prepare!
Involve the children or any other adults in the house.
Since we won’t be hosting large gatherings, you will have time to brainstorm with your children and family members. What you are doing is creating a time capsule together. When you get everyone involved, they’re far more likely to participate.
Ask them what they think future generations need to know about how they coped with the pandemic. How can they show this as they are shooting their holiday photos? Then, plan a shot list. Here are some ideas of what to include.
While you may want to include some beautifully composed and staged photos, don’t forget to capture moments, no matter how imperfect they may be.
Do you have a tradition of baking turkey-shaped sticky buns on Thanksgiving morning? Be sure to grab a shot. This is the perfect chance for practicing food photography with a humorous twist.
Do you make cranberry relish? This year make it a family event. Then, capture the excited reaction of your child as the Cuisinart grinds up the fruit. Don’t worry about taking a perfect photo. In this case, my daughter-in-law threw her head back in laughter. The slight motion blur of her head told a story that a perfect shot wouldn’t have told. When you are shooting holiday photos, storytelling is an important element.
What about making a gingerbread house? This is where candid shots really shine. Be sure to use continuous shooting mode on your camera or burst mode on your iPhone. You’ll end up with lots of shots to choose from, while you look for the perfect expressions and gestures.
Don’t forget to include your pets! They are a vital part of your family.
Sometimes, adding a costume adds just the right touch!
While you are shooting your holiday photos, try to corral the families and capture them together in one photo.
These photos will be so valuable to future generations. Ask anyone who does genealogy research!
What if your family can’t be together this year? Why not set up a computer screen to include the missing members.
For this photo, taken while our son was deployed in the Navy, I set up a computer screen on our kitchen counter. Then, when he was able to call home using Skype, he could watch his wife and kids show off their gifts, including the bike leaning against the counter. I love this shot of family mayhem.
Now it’s your turn.
It’s time to get everyone involved and plan ahead. (That computer screen definitely does not live on our kitchen island! It had to be planned.) Be sure to have your cameras staged where the action will take place.
My preferred setting for candid shots like these is Aperture mode, with an f/stop of f/4, and with ISO set to auto. Be sure to turn your flash off, even on your iPhone. If there is a lot of action, shoot in continuous shooting mode or burst mode, so you can keep the best expressions.
After the holidays
Now the important part begins. You’ve been shooting these holiday photos for the future. Look through the photos and choose the ones that tell the story of your time during lockdown. Be sure to include a few posed family photos if you have them.
You have a choice. You can either print them and put them into an album or you can create a photo book, using a service like Shutterfly. Whichever path you choose, be sure to include the names (and possibly ages) of everyone in each photo. Then write a paragraph or two to explain what has made this holiday season different. Finally put this book in a safe place for future generations to find.
I love this family photo album that was assembled well over a century ago. I just wish names and dates had been added. With a few exceptions, I have absolutely no idea who the people in the album are!
For help in taking family photos, you might enjoy this post: Taking your Own Family Photos.