Leading event photographer Jessica Milberg has teamed up with outdoor party and events expert Katherine Hudson sharing tips that will make your office and family Christmas party images stand out from everyone else’s.
Jessica Milberg, professional photographer for eighteen years, has shot everything from commercial products to portraits, weddings, and anything to do with people.
Jessica gives us an insight on why she loves Christmas time, her recent Christmas project with House of Hud, a bespoke marquee company, and tips on how best to capture the Christmas spirit;
‘Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, primarily due to the abundance of biscuits and an excuse to eat hors devours and other miniature sized foods to my hearts content.But more than that, I have always loved that Christmas is that one time a year when the world around us transforms into magical environments of childhood fantasy. Everything glitters and glints and the explosion of pattern and colour makes even the biggest Grinch’s eyes sparkle just a little bit.
‘When Katherine Hudson of House of Hud asked me to photograph her new holiday styling venture, I nearly sprouted antlers with excitement. The thing about the team at House of Hud is that no matter what the challenge, they do everything big. As the photographer for the project I wasn’t required to be on site until everything was mostly set up so every day I walked in was like being hit with the big reveal from a television make over show. Every day was a new “look”, a new visual challenge to capture the spirit of.’
The biggest challenge on this project was light. Light, especially when its integral to conveying the mood of a scene, can be hard to capture. I think many of you budding shutter bugs would agree that during the short days of the holiday season, capturing the Christmas magic in your own home doesn’t always result in images you like.
The way I like to overcome this challenge (not just professionally but in my personal images as well) is to get to know my camera and my flash.
Indoor light during the winter be it candles, tree lights, roaring fires, or simply lamps, give off a warm yellow/orange glow. This light is what sets that lovely cozy warm feeling we get at Christmas time but it can also be dark and make your loved ones look like oompa loompa’s.
Turn that flash on and all of a sudden the warmth is gone and your mother in law’s eyes have revealed the true red demon underneath.
So, how can you come to a happy medium of having your images represent the warm glow you see and feel without the spray tan or lights out look?
If you have a digital SLR as many of the general public has these days, get to know your ISO.
Let this be your Christmas holiday mantra. For those of you that don’t know, ISO is a rating that film used to be given that basically rates how sensitive the crystals on the film were.
The higher the ISO, the quicker (and bigger) those crystals hardened when exposed to even just a little light. The lower the ISO the slower (and smaller) the crystals formed.
In the age of digital we use ISO as a larger component to exposure (like shutter speed and aperture). The higher you set your ISO, the lower, more ambient light you can photograph in. This means that you can capture the glow of all the candles, fires, and fairly lights you like without having to lose ambience to the flash.
But how do I stop my people looking like they have just rolled around in the red clay of Kentucky, you ask? White balance.
Your camera has a setting that you can change to best suit the light in your environment called white balance. It’s often on auto and sometimes that works just fine, however you may notice a few other icons in your white balance menu.
Most have a cloud, a light bulb, a bar with some lines, etc. Play around with your white balance settings to see which one best represents the colours in your environment. For rooms lit with candles and lamps, use the light bulb setting and see if it makes your people less orange. If it’s an overcast day outside, try the cloud setting, etc.
My biggest tip for getting the best images of your Christmas décor and family is not to get too hung up on the technical aspects of photography. Tell a story.
Take pictures of all the little details even if they don’t seem important. All the details of say, a bobble hanging on a tree, the aftermath of a gift wrapping session, your nan’s hands as she rolls out the dough for Christmas biscuits, or even the stash of holiday booze help to capture the true spirit of your holiday experience.
Get some nice portraits of each family member, sneak around like a ninja and get some of those priceless candid moments between family members or friends. But most of all, share that story with them. Make a slide show and email it to you’re nearest and dearest, or invite them over after New Year’s Day for a bit of post holiday pick me up.
Make it a tradition and I promise it will be the gift your loved ones look forward to the most.