2020 has been a challenging year for most, and Christmas is the perfect excuse to form positive memories and close the year on a high note.
The pandemic has pushed businesses to become more tech-savvy - most people now are familiar with video conferencing apps like Zoom and file-sharing services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
People are now more comfortable with being in front of a camera, which makes this festive season the perfect opportunity to take your photography/videography to the next level!
As an established video production company in Singapore, we have some helpful pointers that we’ll be covering in this article to bring out that warm, “Christmassy” aesthetic into your holiday photos and videos.
Everyone knows the Benjamin Franklin quote, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.
Having been in the business of video production for over 10 years, we can testify to the fact that the pre-production phase is probably the most important stage of the process.
Here’s a simple checklist to go through before your shoot:
1. Time & Location
If you’re shooting outdoors, it’s important to choose a location with good lighting and scenery.
Outdoor shoots are challenging because of changing weather and lighting conditions. When choosing your location, pay attention to whether a given spot is in full sun, partial sun or full shade.
Direct sunlight tends to be too harsh on people’s faces and light-coloured surfaces tend to blow out in full sunlight - causing automatic camcorder lenses to underexpose shots. For consistent results, try to find a location that’s shaded, or shoot on a cloudy day.
The Golden Hour (Source: Sassy Media Group)
If you’re shooting at night, find a nice backdrop with Christmas lights, and make sure to have some form of lighting (key light) to illuminate your subject. If you’re shooting indoors, the same concept applies - try to position your subjects somewhere in the house that gets lots of daylight, or near an indoor lamp or light source.
Image Source: Shopee
Smartphone technology has come a long way. Unfortunately, while shooting photos on a smartphone is incredibly convenient, the quality of photos is limited by the camera’s small size and sensor - which limits the amount of light a camera can potentially receive and therefore limits the quality of pictures it can produce.
Compared to DSLR cameras, smartphones cameras usually shoot photos at a lower resolution. For example, the iPhone 12 has a 12 megapixel (MP) camera, while the Sony a6500 is a 24MP camera. While higher MP doesn’t mean higher quality, it does give you more flexibility in cropping photos and allowing for larger photo prints.
Nonetheless, if a smartphone is all you’ve got, don’t let that stop you! If you’re not investing in a DSLR, another option is to buy a smartphone tripod and a simple ring light (a.k.a. “Influencer light”), which you can easily buy online for cheap. This will greatly improve your workflow and give you more flexibility when it comes to camera and lighting angles.
If you do own a DSLR, make sure you’re using the right camera settings and lens for the occasion. Wide-angle lenses are good for capturing more of the scenery, and macro lenses are good for taking tighter shots that put the subject in central focus.
Wide-Angle Lens (Source: Digital Photo Mentor)
Macro Lens (Source: Fstoppers)
Composing the Shot
When shooting, use triangles and the rule of thirds to compose your photos. Triangles are a framework for composition that’s used in classical art, and the rule of thirds is an easy and practical rule that helps you to balance a shot composition.
Triangle Composition (Source: envato tuts+)
Rule of Thirds (Source: envato tuts+)
Christmas photos will usually fall into one of the following categories: food, people or scenery.
For food photos, avoid using your viewfinder - try composing images on your camera’s screen, which gives you a larger view and removes the need for you to stoop down into awkward positions. Using the screen also lets you focus manually, as you’re able to magnify the target area and make sure the focus is spot-on.
When shooting people and scenery, try to include as much sky as possible in the background, and shooting from a low position. If you can, try to shoot into the afterglow of the evening sky.
Afterglow (Image Source: EYÜP BELEN)
Once you’re done taking photos, don’t forget to do some post-processing on your images. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the industry standards, but mobile apps like VSCO and Snapseed are good, free alternatives. Most apps will come with their own set of Christmas filters, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try your hand at manual edits.
To conclude, here’s a summary of dos and don’ts when it comes to Christmas photography:
- Use a wider aperture for a shallower depth of field.
- Shoot in RAW format, which allows you to edit in post without losing too much detail or amplifying noise.
- Use slower shutter speeds to allow for more light into the camera.
- Avoid using flash - use a bounce reflector or ring light instead.
- For food photos, focus on one portion of the food; which makes the overall photo more attractive. Rotate your dish to find the best angle, use the vertical plane to add some height, and look for key colours in the plate.
- When shooting people, keep it casual; try to get close and personal and capture your subjects from different angles.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Big 3 Media!
At Big 3 Media, we have a suite of services to market your business during these challenging times:
- Live Streaming services
- Video production
- Website design and development
- Media Buy
- Graphic Design & Mascot design
- Content Marketing Strategy