How to get the best photos from your holiday party this year

The holiday season is full upon us and whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa (or if you just get invited to a lot of gatherings this time of year), I’m guessing you will be taking some photos at some holiday parties soon.

Assuming most won’t be bringing their DSLR to the neighborhood Christmas party, let’s talk about a few ideas for getting memorable shots with a point-and-shoot or a smartphone camera.

Party Collage

Plan ahead

Whether you’re hosting or a guest, the obvious first tip is to plan ahead. Plan to arrive early if you’re a guest so you can get pictures before the food is all eaten. If you’re the host, get pictures of the pretty food before your guests arrive. This is especially true if you are a Pinterest follower who just had to make cute designs out of the veggie and cheese trays!

Another part of planning ahead is to make sure you have spare batteries for your point-and-shoot or that your phone battery is fully charged.

Also make a list of “must haves” including groups of friends and individuals, food, and décor. Be sure to get a variety of shots.

People pictures

Sure, the food is usually great at a holiday party but the real reason to go is the people. It seems like the favorite shot is a group shot of everyone there but that always happens “before everyone leaves.” Why not get this picture closer to when people arrive so that people’s hair, makeup and clothes are fresh? If you have notorious latecomers, consider putting a time for the picture in the invitation so people know they won’t be included if they are late.

In general, try to get pictures of groups but also individuals (remember, introverts won’t be likely to be in large groups!).

Another way to be kind to your guests is to get pictures of them in as flattering ways as possible. For example, not when they are eating. No one likes to see themselves with their mouth wide open and food going in! Get pictures of your friends choosing food or holding food, not eating it.

If you’re the host, consider even setting up a photo booth of sorts. You can find or even hang a white backdrop (better considering I assume your party will be inside and in the evening when there’s no natural light). You could even offer a selfie stick (available online) where people can take their picture in the booth or you can provide a point-and-shoot that people can use.

One last people-related tip: don’t forget to get photos of yourself!

Food pictures

We already mentioned getting there in time to see the food before it’s devoured but also make sure you’re taking appetizing food photos (your friends both from the party and your social media feeds will thank you).

I recently shared a blog about how to take great food photography with your smartphone. Check this blog out for all kinds of tips! As a party guest, you might be somewhat limited on your options for arranging food but there’s still plenty you can do to create mouthwatering photos.

For example, keep the utensil on your plate and if getting a picture of that yummy dip, make sure it’s on a chip or cracker. “Gloppy” food can look pretty unappetizing so it needs something to provide texture and depth.

Don’t forget those decorations

Whether you’re a guest or host, you know a lot of time went into those holiday decorations. I wrote a blog last year about getting great pictures of holiday decorations and many of these apply whether it’s your own home or not! Of course get pictures of the tree, but other knick-knacks that might be displayed as well.

A few more technical notes

Try the macro function on your camera (on most it’s designated by a flower symbol). It will help you capture up-close detail.

Don’t use the flash inside if you can at all help it. Instead, use room lighting or lighting from decorations. Get pictures of food before it gets dark if possible.

Take many, rapid movement photos when shooting pictures of action like someone opening a gift.

Fill the frame as much as possible with the subject. This will help make them more visible in a less-than-ideal lighting and make them more in focus.

We at Linda Richards Photography hope you have a happy and blessed holiday season! If you want a professional photographer to capture your family portrait, make sure to give us a call.