Taking holiday snapshots for the family may include a detailed list of considerations such as getting everyone in the shot, making sure everyone is attentive and smiling and finally making sure everyone gets a copy of the picture. It all amounts to making sure your audience is satisfied.
Most holidays are considered a time for feasting so food is often featured in holiday photos. Presenting food items for the advertising industry is a very specialized and technical area of photography. The process sometimes involves a certain amount of ‘retouching’. It’s not that the food isn’t great. It’s just that conveying the best qualities of food items through a photograph is very tricky. So it’s all about composition, color elements and trying to identify some center of interest. At Thanksgiving the center of interest for most people is the bird but others may choose the mashed potatoes.
a. Food items need the same lighting considerations as any other subject. Don’t forget to take advantage of a nearby window to supplement your lighting.
b. If you are featuring just one item such as a desert then leave out the other food items but include a fork or part of a cup of coffee to balance the composition and add interest.
c. Professional photographers will apply vegetable oil to some food items to make them glisten. I don’t recommend doing that to Aunt Kathy’s baked ham at Christmas dinner.
d. Make a shot where you get down to the level of the food. Try a macro shot to capture texture and to make small details noticeable.
e. Plan ahead so you can shoot those steaming hot items while they are still steaming and before things settle too much.
f. Most chefs would consider it a compliment if you were motivated to document their culinary feats as they arrive at your table in a fine restaurant. A lot of people do this while on vacation.
I don’t envy wedding photographers one bit. They have a tough job. Yet the task of snapping photos of an important event does not preclude being creative and having fun with the process. Your family is one audience you don’t want to hear back from about how you messed up the holiday pictures. After all they’re relying on you to record the event and to provide them with copies of the photos. Sure, everyone may be ‘taking pictures’ but you are the photographer. Good luck with this kind of assignment.
There is a more specific way to view photography that is exclusively about what you want to do with the hobby and choosing your target audience and your message.
Personal Expression and Creative Photography
For me photography is most enjoyable when I’m using the medium as an expression of my artistic and creative urges. I’m shooting what I choose and experimenting and learning. Also, I am anticipating sharing my favorite results with my audience. I may also anticipate sharing my experiments, successful or failed, with other photographers who will appreciate them.
If you can tolerate criticism of your favorite photographic work you may be ready for peer-to-peer review of your work, including your experiments. I have a popular web site to recommend to all creative minds including photographers. For those who are not familiar with Zoetrope.com I suggest you give this web site a visit. The central benefit for photographers at this site is the ability to get peer reviews for your work. You must review a number of photographs by others for each photograph of your own that you submit.