Make holiday photos picture perfect

November 27, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
Learn how to take unique and professional looking photos of your family this holiday season with your digital camera.

Erin Manning is a professional photographer, host of the digital photography TV series "The Whole Picture" on HGTV and DIY, and author of "Portrait and Candid Photography." In her new book Erin shares tips and techniques that help you take beautiful pictures of people.

Today Erin is here to help us taker better photos during the holidays - she says it's a snap!

The cameras featured on the show:
Canon point and shoot cameras

  • Canon Powershot SD950 IS, Click here
  • Canon Powershot SD870 IS, Click here
  • Canon Powershot A720 IS, Click here
  • Canon portable printer, Click here

    TIPS

    1. To capture those real moments in a photograph, observe what's going on around you, look for the moments, and be technically comfortable with your camera's features. You don't need to say "cheese" to capture a beautiful image. Be encouraging and positive, get people to laugh with you and they will respond with natural expressions. With kids, give them something to do and they will forget the camera is there - allowing you to capture an authentic moment.

    2. If you are shooting outdoors, the best light happens very early in the morning or later in the afternoon. This family photo was taken during the last moments of sunset. The light is soft and even on my subject's faces (no harsh shadows) and you can see a little twinkle in their eyes, also known as a "catch light."

    3. When shooting pictures indoors cycle through your flash options by pressing the little lightening bolt icon on the back of your camera. Choose night flash to capture the beautiful ambiance of a candle lit room, yet still illuminate your subject. Choose red-eye reduction in a low-light situation to reduce those glaring red-eye monster shots. Choose no flash to ensure that your flash does not fire at all (great for museums). If you are shooting pictures in the "Automatic" mode, try changing your setting to "P" for Program. This is a more sophisticated version on the automatic mode. Your camera will automatically determine the correct exposure settings, but you will have more choices available for controlling your camera's array of options. If your compact camera does not have a mode dial with a "P" option, check your menu settings and set it to "Manual."

    4. Composition:
        a.) A framing element in your scene draws attention to your main subject. The "framed" image examples are a literal way to explain the point, but it helps you remember that a framing element focuses the attention on your subject. Look for framing elements everywhere, doorways, archways, windows, or overhanging tree branches and use them in your photographs. Be creative!
        b.) Placing your subject right in the middle of frame is great for a passport or drivers license photo, but to create a more visually interesting photo, move your subject off-center and use the rule of thirds. Visually divide your scene into thirds, like a tic-tac-toe board, and place something of interest at one or more of those intersections.

    5. Most portraits or headshots look better when your subject fills the frame, but don't make the mistake of using the wide angle setting on your lens and moving in close to fill the frame. Your subject's nose and face will look distorted and background distractions become more obvious. Instead, give yourself room to zoom - stand back and fill the frame with your subject by zooming in with your lens (telephoto). The background becomes blurred, eliminating distracting elements behind your subject and the perspective is much more flattering.

    6. When composing your shot, pay attention to the background - you don't want plants coming out of people's ears or statues coming out of their head. These elements can be very distracting. If your background is too busy, consider moving your subject, changing your camera angle, or have a friend hold a solid colored blanket or fabric swatch behind your subject for an easy backdrop solution.

    7. There are some easy ways to share your images online, but there is nothing like having prints in your hands, instantly. I like to bring my portable mini-printer with me to parties and events so I can print my images on the spot, and give them away to friends and family.

    Web site:
    www.erinmanning.com

    About Erin Manning:
    A professional photographer, award-winning TV host, author, and teacher, Erin helps people understand digital photography and technology by translating technical mumbo jumbo into everyday words, and facilitating learning with a clear, friendly teaching style.

    Television viewers know Erin Manning best as the digital photography expert and host of HGTV and DIY Network's Telly award-winning TV series "The Whole Picture". She has also appeared as the techno-lifestyle guru on "Enable Your Home" and is author of Portrait and Candid Photography, published by Wiley.