Advent starts the fourth sunday before Christmas, which is this year 2nd December. It marks for most Western religions the time to start preparing for Christmas. For them it means making a wreath with four candles, one for each sunday. They are lit one after the other so that one the last sunday before Christmas all four candles are lit.
Most people however will have heard of Advent Calendars – which marks in general the last 24 days leading up to Christmas. Each day you open a new window, finding something new behind them. For children these are often chocolates or little toys, for adults you will find poems or spiritual text. Normally the 24th window, Christmas eve, is larger and contains the biggest toy or piece of chocolate.
For me the start of advent means preparing for Christmas – looking around for little gifts for the family, preparing the house and start putting together the Christmas menu if I am at home. Preparation is key for a relaxed and fun Christmas.
This also means you can start preparing your photography plans. Like with anything else, the better prepared, the better results you will have and the better the memory will be.
Christmas is often one of the only times in the year that full families can be together. It is worth thinking well in advance on some of the following issues related to family photography:
* scenery – where is the family gathering and what space do you have available? Is it going to be a case of all crammed together on a small sofa, or do you have a large space to play with? Think about some interesting areas where you can take photos, for example outside space, balconies, stairs etc.
* dress code – do you want to have people in similar style or outfits? Although I personally do not like everyone in the same sweater, it would be good to have some agreement on outfits. For example everyone is smart or casual and you can agree on one piece of the outfit in a certain colour.
* group settings – it is great to have different group photos taken if you have the opportunity. You don’t just want a photo of the whole family and of all individual family groups. What about also taking photos of all (grand) children together or all the males / females in the family. Try to taken memorable photos for example opening presents, preparing the meal or the after dinner snooze on the sofa 🙂
Preparing your kit
It is wise to check early if you have everything available for your kit. These days that is not just spare batteries, but also chargers and cables to connect to your computer. By immediately being able to see your photos you can make sure that you have a nice moment from everyone. I still remember missed opportunities due to not having enough film or only having bad images. These days there is no need for that, so make sure you have your computer and all your kit at hand.
A great way to get additional spontaneous photos is to have additional small compact cameras available. You can just put these on the table or cupboard and have everyone grab it when they want. Great way to get both children and grandparents involved in creating momentos.
Treat yourself beforehand on a fast memory card (class 6 or better, class 10 ideal). Many cameras spend so much time writing to the card, they can miss the best shot. Especially with getting everyone in the photo at the same time with their eyes open and smiling can be tricky so fast cards are a must.