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Top Ten Tips for the Best Christmas Party Photos!

The best Christmas photography with Venture Studios!

Christmas party season is fast approaching. Perhaps you have drawn the short straw and have been asked to take photos at your work Christmas party? Or maybe there’s a big family party taking place and you just know that you will be the one expected to do all the snapping.

Either way, if you plan ahead you will be able to get some great shots but still enjoy the party yourself!

Here are our Top Ten Tips to get the best party shots this season:

  1. First and foremost, find out what the requirement is for your photography. Is the emphasis to be on group shots or individuals? Fun or formal? Do they want posed shots or live action throughout the event? There may well be a combination of all the above, but do make sure that you know what you are aiming for so that expectations are met and things don’t all go horribly wrong.

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  3. Your next challenge is that a Christmas party is almost always an indoor event with dim lighting. So you need to make sure that you have equipment that is capable of getting good shots in these circumstances. To get sharp photos under these conditions you will either need to use flash or increase your ISO setting (see our recent article on Fireworks Photography which explains this in more detail). It is a good idea to have a trial run before the event by setting up similar lighting at home and taking shots using various ISO settings to see the impact of making changes.

  4. If you do decide to use flash, you might want to find a way to tone it down so that subjects are not overexposed. One way to do this is to use some sort of a flash diffuser or reflector, for example an umbrella. Another thing to try is to switch your camera into night mode if it has one. This will cause your camera to use a slower shutter speed but still trigger the flash, which will enable it to capture some of the ambient light of the room as well as the flash. This can create some interesting effects and arty shots.

  5. It can also be effective to vary your aperture setting (also covered in the above article) depending on the nature of your shot. For example, a wide open aperture can be suitable for individual portraits because it can slightly blur the background so make the subject of the photo stand out more. But reducing your aperture - also known as stopping down - will mean that less light enters the lens and you will get greater depth of field. This means that you will be able to take a shot with more in focus, so this is better for group photos.

  6. As your starting point, how about getting some before and after shots of the party venue. You will want to get there early anyway to set up, so it’s a great opportunity to take some good shots of the venue from various different vantage points. The during the event you can get shots from those same points of the party taking place, and then more shots when the party has finished and everything is being cleared up.
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  8. It is also good for a record of an event to get photos as people arrive at the party, but these can be quite unnatural as people will not have had chance to catch their breath, relax and get into the party mood. So it’s a good idea to position yourself at the first point where something happens - for example beside a tray of welcome drinks - rather than pounce on people the minute they walk through the door.

  9. If you have been asked to get some group shots then try to do this earlier in the party rather than later on. This ensures that everyone is still there and that they look their best. Also think beforehand about where to take the shot and how to arrange people to make sure that they all fit into the shot. Nothing is more frustrating - for either you as the photographer or for those being photographed - than lots of time being wasted while the photographer is trying to position people. So if you can plan how to do this in advance it will work much better for everyone.

  10. If your remit is primarily to get some fun photos of the event then it might also be worth setting up your own equivalent of a photo booth. This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Just find an area with a clear background - such as a white wall - and the best lighting you can manage. Then beg, steal or borrow various props such as hats, wigs, glasses and lots of party items. All you then need to do is get people to come along and pose: it is a definitely worth having someone helping to round people up for this so that you are not trying to do this as well as then take the photos. So line up a couple of helpers in advance to help this run smoothly.

  11. For both individual and group shots make sure that you fill your frame with the subject(s) of the photograph. A lot of party photos are ineffective because they are taken at some distance with lots of wasted space around the subject(s). You will get a much better result if you fill your frame with your subject by either using your zoom or moving physically closer.

  12. We have just mentioned wasted space in photographs, and a related issue is that it is very easy ending up with cluttered shots at parties. When you think of all the competing objects and colours that you will find at a typical Christmas party - bright clothing, party hats, decorations, fairy lights, food and drink - it can be difficult to get a clean shot of your subject without lots of clutter in the background. So when taking photographs try and get as clear a background as you can, and you will get a much better result.

We hope that our tips help you to achieve some brilliant party photography this Christmas season. Check back here soon for more photography tips from Venture Studios.

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