My grandparents, aunts and uncles at Christmas in the 60’s
Ebenezer Scrooge would have loved digital photography.
Before his ever-faithful nephew gave him a digital camera Old Ebenezer would say, “Bah! Humbug! Every time I press that button it cost me money. And for what, fuzzy photos for future memories, assuming I want to remember any past Christmas.” (I know, I know, there weren’t any cameras in Victorian England… I’m just making a point here.)
Scrooge was right; back in the jolly of days of photographing Christmas with film it did cost us money every time we pushed that button. This had a great influence on how we made photos.
My family’s roots have a good amount of Scotch-Irish Penny-pinching heritage. Maybe your family used the camera like we did. We could squeeze a whole year of events on one roll.
In order to get as much for our film money as we could we wouldn’t waist a shot. We’d dress everyone in their Sunday best, make sure the sun was shining on their faces, backup to include as much as possible, have everyone look at the camera and say cheese. Then the one taking the picture says, “Ready, one, two, three …” then snap the shutter… once.
At Christmas we all gathered at our grandparent’s house. For the annual Family Christmas Photo we’d pull the sofa out from the wall, fill the sofa with the grandparents and grandkids and arrange everyone else – by height – behind the sofa. Next we put the camera on a tripod and set the self-timer. This was an important event so we’d take two shots to be sure we had it.
That’s me on the far left with all my cousins.
Ebenezer, before he got his digital, would have been pleased, well, at least he would have appreciated the economy of it all.
Now I don’t want to imply that digital photography is cheaper. You’ve got to buy a digital camera. While the simpler ones can be inexpensive, if you get serious about it, the cost of a whoop-t-do SLR digital camera can make you whish we were back in the days of film.
Next you need a computer, but most of us have one already. Then you need some software, but unless you’re serious about your photography you can get by with the software that comes with the camera.
However, the cost to shoot one photo is the same as making hundreds of photos when it comes to digital. Now we can take lots and lots of photos, pick the best ones and delete the rest.
This Christmas instead of having everyone stop what he or she is doing and look at the camera (or line-up behind the sofa) just photograph them as they are. Take photos of people interacting with each other this holiday season. Isn’t this why we look forward to this time of year—rekindling of relationships?
My daughter reacting to a present at her birthday party.
This season look at the edges of that LCD (screen) on the back of the camera just before you shoot. Do you need the back of Uncle Henry’s baldhead in the corner of the picture? Is that Aunt Mary’s foot sticking in the side? Do I need it in this picture? If my subject is my grandmother on the other side of the crowded room do I need all those folks facing all directions between my camera and her? Maybe I should zoom in or move closer or both.
But what if you do want the Christmas tree in the photo with the family? Move around and find an angle where the main subject is obvious and the complimentary subjects don’t take over the photo. Try being sure the main subject is closer to the camera and the other things are further away is one way.
Remember when people are talking—someone is listening. Be sure to take many photos so you can capture not just the enthusiasm of the talker, but also the interest (or not) of the listener. Wait for the conversation to switch and the roles reverse and make more photos.
Make pictures of people cooking, relaxing, in conversation with each other. Take photos of the outings to the ice rink, skiing, or whatever your traditions may be this season rather than just the posed shots.
Over time and through the years you will see some patterns. I had an uncle who took photos of my Dad each Christmas with his car. For several years my uncle made pictures of my Dad with his head under the hood of whatever car he had that year. It made a funny series when my uncle put them together in a slide show for the family one year. Here is David working on his Ford, here he is working on his Chevy, here his is with a new car…
So why is digital photography a real stimulus package? Because even Scrooge would take many more photos with his digital camera since it no longer cost more each time the button is pushed.
This digital stimulus package will improve your family photos and with no additional cost to take lots of pictures so you can edit down and just keep the good ones.
Keep your camera battery charged and remember to get those photos off the camera and into the computer so you can make even more memorable moments this holiday season.