The NYIP or New York Institute of Photography if you want to be formal has a great online article dedicated to taking great Thanksgiving Photos. I urge all of you to read the full article, but I wanted to hit the highlights…
1. Know exactly what you want to be the subject of each picture! Seriously…this sounds like the “no duh” of photography but I have boat loads of my Mom hiding amongst the candles or kitchen cabinets. Once I noticed what was distracting in the photos, I could get her framed better and she became the star she was ment to be.
2. Capture in your Thanksgiving photograph is the spirit of the occasion. And what is the spirit…well you know best what baggage your family has…I kid. It is family and togetherness…moreso than any other holiday.
3. Getting the best formal shot aka ubiquitous table shot: Position yourself and your camera at the far end of the table – directly opposite “the official carver”. Don’t shoot from a seated level because the most important visible thing in your picture will be the clutter of dishes, silverware and napkins on the table and you don’t want that. That’s right get up…I know I will be counting that valuable get up and down as my cardio work out for the day. From this higher vantage you can get all the family in your picture, along with the turkey and the person poised to carve. That makes the people and the overall table setting the important subjects, not the dirty dishes. And don’t be afraid to be bossy, tell everyone what to do…not just to smile…try looking at the turkey in wonder…or trying to make the youngest at the table laugh. Try to avoid Aunt Rosie getting that early snitch of food (yeah, that’s me) people look aweful when eating.
4. The large group photo: Key to a great shot…levels. This what I was told when staging theater productions and it goes the same for family photos. Stairs are your best friends. Once everyone is in place…make sure all faces are visable then ask people to scooch together…people lean on each other and smiles become warmer. And don’t forget those family pooches & kittys!…Now, tripods are the best for this type of photo. And instead of cheese…have them say a “key” type like ummm Turkey…or money…much more natural mouth position to a smile.
5. Candids, Candids, candids: Get little David playing touch football with the cousins, or Grandpa snoozing during the parade…and no one can ask you to clean if you have the camera in your hand…right? Right? RIGHT?
Good Shooting and Happy Thanksgiving!