photographing thanksgiving

happy thanksgiving banner

Want to improve your holiday photographs this year? Seven tips to get you started!

Identify the subject. Before you take the shot, ask yourself this question: “What’s the subject of my photo?”
Is it the turkey, the spread, carving the turkey, grandma, the kids? If you have a clear idea of what subject you want to capture with each shot, you will be better able to focus on and capture the subject.

Frame your subject. Focus in on your subject. If there are any distractions in back of your subject, move them, reposition your subject, or reposition yourself to help minimize the distractions.

Change your point of view. A photo of the family at the table might be better shot a little higher than the eye-level of the tallest person in the scene. Photos of the children can benefit from crouching down to shoot at their level, rather than down at them. Experiment with different angles.

Posed and Candid Shots Pose family members for some shots. Take multiple photos of family members in small groups. The more people in your photos, the more photos you may have to take to compensate for problems like closed eyes, heads turned away from the camera, etc. For natural, candid photographs, take photos of family members talking, raising their glasses, having fun.

Get in Close Most people have a tendency to stand back when taking a photo. Take a couple of steps towards your subject. Get in close to capture a child’s face next to grandma and grandpa’s. The result will be more personal photos that draw the viewer into the scene and elicit a more emotional connection to the subject. Plan to take a photo of the turkey being carved? Get in close to the food too! Try a few shots focused on the knife slicing through the turkey or a close-up of a piece of apple pie.

Light up the Room You can always use flash indoors, but it can flatten out color or create harsh lighting situations. First try to use indoor or natural lighting. Turn on as many lights in the room as possible, or position subjects near a window to take advantage of natural lighting. (Remember to shoot away from the window for proper exposure.) If your camera allows, try increasing your ISO to avoid flash use. To obtain truer colors, use an appropriate white balance preset (for sunlight, incandescent light, flash, etc.) if your camera allows. If you use your flash, remain within the recommended flash range. Avoid shooting towards shiny objects or windows that will reflect the light back at the lens.

Get in the photo! It’s easy to get in the photo yourself. A tripod or level surface to keep your camera steady is a must. Set up your family leaving some space for you to jump in. Focus the camera, set the timer, step into your spot, and smile!

happy thanksgiving

It’s been a long while since I made a new entry. Things got a little busy towards the end of the summer and into the fall, and the blog had to take a back seat.

It’s been a little over a year now since I restarted my business, and it’s been challenging at times, but always interesting and fun. Since June, I shot a few weddings and events; created logos; put together a few brochures, postcards, and ads; wrote another two rounds of business articles; and have been working on some branding materials.

Hope to post some new work soon, but in the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all.

pilgrims and indians

race point
Recently, I read Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick which dispels the many myths about the Pilgrims, Indians and Thanksgiving with which we've been brought up.

The book details the Pilgrims' journey from England to Holland and eventually to America in search of a place where they could live and worship as they saw fit.

The passage was long and brutal. They arrived, not on Plymouth Rock, but along the outer arm of the Cape, eventually landing in the Provincetown area before making their way to Plymouth Harbor. I've often looked out from Race Point, over the dunes and out to sea, and thought how beautiful and desolate and barren it looks, and what it must have been like to be among the "first" to see this shore.

Without a doubt, the Pilgrims needed food, and fast. One of their first acts of procuring food was to, unfortunately, steal corn that had been stored away for the winter months from the local inhabitants. Not a great way to begin a mutually beneficial relationship in a foreign land. But the Indians befriended them and there was likely a celebration of thans the following fall which was unlike the Thanksgiving we have come to know and love.

And, amazingly, a peace, uneasy at times, was established between the Pilgrims and the tribes along the coast and lasted for about 50 years. Over time, the cultural bridges that had been built failed. The balance of power began to shift from the Indians to the increasing numbers of English who arrived on this shore looking to establish their own thing. And they needed lots of land for cows, and houses, and crops, and commerce. And the next generation needed still more.

The story gets a little complex, as stories do, with arms deals, land "bought" at ridiculously unfair prices, friends becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies, and tribes setting against tribes. The end result: a lot of bloodshed on both sides. Dead Pilgrims and far more dead Indians—as well as enslaved Indians who were sold to pay for the war te new Americans waged.

The past cannot be undone, but there's a lesson or three in it, as there always is. While I'm passing the turkey and stuffing, and fighting over the wings, and giving thanks for waht I have, I'll be reflecting a lot more on the mythology of the day.

I imagine that, with the exception of the occasional plane, boat, and hiker, this view in 2005 might have looked pretty much the same to a Pilgrim or the Nausets in 1620. This double exposure above was taken with a Holga Camera from the balcony of the Visitor’s Center at Race Point. The Holga costs $24.00 and is a whole lot of fun.