A present from me to all my friends and family over the holiday period is to always have my camera to hand.
I’m going to make more effort to photograph family and friends this Christmas. Whether or not they want me too!
Looking back at Christmases past there are plenty of photographs showing our children when they were small. Toddlers only have to be tearing wrapping from presents to look sweet. Still more cute when they’re wearing the jumper knit by Granny. Unsurprisingly there are fewer pictures in our family collection of the children as teenagers. “Dad! Stop taking pictures!” It’s not just the awkwardness of adolescents that stopped me snapping pics of Christmas celebrations, it’s a bit of laziness. Well lethargy at least. Often it’s such a relief to get to the 25th December with work finished and presents bought, wrapped, hidden and delivered (to Santa obviously) that it’s easy to forget about the camera.
It seems to me that concealed inside the Christmas routine are some great photo opportunities. Especially for anyone who likes photographing people. The good humour that pervades most souls makes them a little more patient with the persistent photographer. Playing with a new toy, or exploring a new gadget is very distracting anyway – so there’s a good chance to capture pictures of people while they concentrate on the operating system or lose themselves in their new book. There are better pictures to be taken if you can encourage people to sit by a window in natural light. Generally, don’t bother with the camera’s built-in flash. Sometimes by chance the light from a standard or table lamp will light a face nicely, if the camera’s ready you needn’t miss it.
If you’re getting together with family or friends it’s a real shame not to get a picture of everyone, especially if you don’t often see each other. Open the door to visitors with a camera in your hands. There’s a lovely picture of smiles, kisses and handshakes as guests arrive. It also establishes from the start that you intend to take pictures, and of course gives the visitors permission to do the same. When you’re the visitor you have to make a judgment about the appropriateness of taking the camera. Usually I find people are pleased when they see my Nikon round my neck. Perhaps because they know they’re looking good and the house is tidy!
The secret is knowing when to stop taking pictures, I don’t like photographs of people eating. In between courses, while one person is holding everyone’s attention with a good story, you can quietly turn the lens towards the listeners. But then it’s time to put the camera down. Except for getting everyone to pose for a group picture, that’s always fun. Prop the camera on some books and use the self-timer. In years to come the pictures will develop all the more poignance.
Along with millions of others we go for a walk after lunch on Christmas day. New bikes and scooters usually abound, but best not to take pictures of children falling off. Have the camera at the ready for the unexpected encounter with a neighbour in their Christmas jumper. No one will mind you taking pictures. They can’t, it’s Christmas!