Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thanks for the memories: how to take perfect Thanksgiving pictures


By Cari Cooney

At the end of each November, many American families join together to celebrate loved ones, football, and food. We call this day Thanksgiving. On this day, we enjoy excessive amounts of food and fun.

With family and friends united, you may want to capture the moment on camera. Here are some helpful tips for the amateur photographer in us all. There's magic in holiday celebrations and some of these tips will help you convey that magic through pictures.

If you want to have photos you're actually thankful you took of your tasty holiday celebration, follow these hints.

Candid camera

Many of us may experience Thanksgiving in modest homes. When friends and relatives arrive for the festivities, you will find them spread out around the house before the big meal. To capture the atmosphere, take candid photos.

This simply means walking around with your camera taking pictures of people in their natural state. Don't ask them to pose or smile. In a few minutes they'll forget you're taking the pictures and act naturally.

Shutter speed

It would be best for you to set your camera's shutter speed at the fastest setting. This way, you can walk from room to room, snapping pictures quickly. You'll avoid blurry images if you're moving while shooting.

It's also helpful to have a fast shutter speed when you attempt candid shots, so that you'll get a crisp image if your subject suddenly moves (and they will). Remember, a true candid shot means that the subject is unaware he or she is being photographed.

The gotcha here, of course, is that a fast speed captures less light, so make sure you're using a flash properly if the room isn't really well lit.


You may find out that zooming in on your subject increases the appeal of the photo. If you want to snap a picture of two people having a conversation, zoom in on them. Having too much background or other people in the shot can clutter the image, and what you were hoping to capture could be lost in the jumble. Do it quickly, as these candid moments disappear quickly.

Here are two pictures that will help you see what a difference zoom can make in the artistic appearance of your photos. Since my relatives aren't over for Thanksgiving yet, I had to take pictures of this quite nice cornucopia.

Figure A shows a lovely fall centerpiece is the attention of the photograph. This shot really doesn't do it justice.


The table looks empty here. We can do better. (click for larger image)

To make the still life "pop", zoom in as shown in Figure B.