Posted on November 3rd, 2009
Thanksgiving is a great opportunity for taking photographs. The most important thing to know is your subject. This could be anything from family to the food or maybe both. You want to make sure whatever your subject is that it’s the most important thing in the frame and there is nothing distracting from it.
The second key element to capture in your Thanksgiving photograph is the spirit of the occasion, and we have already defined the spirit of Thanksgiving as family and togetherness. Let’s say you want to take some dining room table shots. A picture of all the food by itself is pretty boring so try adding family around the table.
Shoot from a higher level
What you do want to feature in your Thanksgiving photo are the family members, the elegant setting, and the turkey. Stand up or if you have steady hands get on a step stool. From this higher vantage you can get all the family in your picture, along with the turkey and the person poised to carve. This permits the focus to be on people, and not items on the table.
Become a director
Direct everyone in what to do. Take one photo with them all holding up their glasses in a toast and looking toward the camera. Take another with everyone looking toward the turkey as its about to be carved. Try not to take any photos of people eating.
If you camera has flash, use it. But the problem with built-in flash on many cameras is that it may be too weak to light up the far end of a long table. When lighting is low, turn as many lights on in the room as possible, adjust the white balance setting to match the main source of light and up the ISO. If it’s early enough in the day, let outside daylight into the room.
Thanksgiving presents one other classic photo opportunity – a large group portrait. Consider gathering the entire group outside, perhaps on the front porch. The key to a successful shot – the key to any successful group shot – is the way you arrange the subjects. Don’t line them up like soldiers at attention. Rather, aim for a casual up-and-down arrangement. If the porch has steps, have some people sit on the steps, sit some on chairs above, have some stand while others lean against the railing. Don’t forget the family pets. If necessary, ask people to move closer together to close up any empty spaces. Remember, togetherness is the theme. Show this togetherness in your picture. Don’t separate the family.
Get yourself in the photos
Just because you’re the family photographer, doesn’t mean you should be left out of pictures. Use a tripod and the self-timer so you can get into the photo. If you don’t have a tripod, set the camera on a level surface.