The night before the big man arrives, make sure you’ve got everything prepared for the morning. Don’t be caught out like I might have been that one time (ok, probably a few times!), charge your batteries and format your memory cards. Have a de-clutter too, it will make the ensuing mess all the more easy to face.
Or lack there of if you’re in the UK. If your children wake up about an hour after they’ve gone to bed (and continue to do so every hour after till Father Christmas has been) then you’ll know it’s pretty dark at that time. You’ll need to use every light scource available to you but do try to avoid using the over head lights. Having the kids face the natural light with the christmas tree behind them is ideal so if you can put off the present opening till then even better. If not then use all the side lamps you have to hand, and not that you would, but don’t forget the lights on the tree.
Build it! Tell the kids they need to wait for a few things to happen before they can dive in and rip everything open. Slowing down builds the excitment and makes it last longer. Besides all that you’ll need to make a cup of coffee, right? I like to be waiting in the room for them so I can get those amazing WOW faces when they come in the door and see all the presents under the tree. Usually they have opened their stockings in bed with me so they’re fine with waiting for the main present. Having a rule that only one person can open a present at a time is great for slowing it all down and just focusing on being grateful. It also means you are less likely to miss the all important reactions if you have more than one child.
Whilst you can prepare and hope things go the way you planned, it may not. Don’t be a bore and make it all about the photos. If you’re not comfortable enough with your camera to enjoy the moment and take some shots at the same time then put it down. Just leave it alone, this is not the time to be worrying about settings and getting in a faff over light and posing. Practice beforehand to make sure you have an idea of what youre dealing with, that way you know what settings you’ll need. Or just use your bloomin’ phone, I won’t tell anyone. Life is too short and there’s always next year!
If you’re fairly comfortable using your DSLR but just need a quick reminder of where to start…
*Keep your shutter speed high and your F number low
*Hike up that ISO
*Set your white balance
*Choose the right lens, I prefer a wider lens at home 24mm or 35mm are my favourites.
Be a master storyteller. From the moment they wake up, capture the details. The feet running, the little fingers picking at the wrapping paper and the eyes lighting up. The moments of gratitute, the family embraces and the looks of love. That’s what it’s all about. Really.
Learn how to use it. Even your phone has one. Prop it up and please get in the shot with your babies. I promise they (and you) will cherish those photos far more than any perfectly lit/executed frames in years to come.