We all have that moment; when the kids are tucked around the tree, a gleam in there eye, all the presents silently waiting to be unwrapped while we find ourselves without our cameras. If you are like me you will grab your phone or the nearest IPOD available. While these are great devices it is often better to prepare a camera and avoid the lag time often found in phone or IPOD cameras.
Two days before Christmas take the time to charge your camera’s batteries and place the camera in a convenient place near the Christmas tree. This way when you are stumbling out of bed at 5a.m. you won’t have to search for it, instead you can just grab it and start capturing those memories.
Lighting: When capturing candid images on Christmas morning it is easy to get really dark images or images with too much flash. If you have an SLR camera with an exterior flash try bouncing the flash off of the ceiling or other large white service. This will give you the light you need but with a softer effect. If you have the option to choose a slow shutter speed with flash this is the best as it will allow some of the ambient light from the Christmas lights into the image while the flash will still freeze the subject. This option can cause some interesting results though so have fun with it.
Placement: Try and prepare the area you will be unwrapping presents in before hand. Now obviously we expect the mayhem of a Christmas morning but try and avoid general clutter as this will detract from your overall image. Couches make great backgrounds but dining chairs often create a busy feel to an image.
Clothing: In our house we don’t often (never) get dressed before starting our Christmas morning. For this reason I often will buy the kids special pajamas just for the Christmas morning images we love to create. As for us parents, it is important to make sure we are in some of the pictures as well. I suggest wearing something you wouldn’t mind be photographed in and pony tails are great for taming the “morning” hair. I will also use a cute Christmas cap to hide my bed head since I have short hair.