Vitec Group
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Christmas is a time to gather around the fire and celebrate with loved ones at the end of a long year.

To help you best savor all of your favorite festive moments in years to come (and share them online), professional photographer Drew Gardner has put together a list of twelve tips for great Christmas shots.

1.) Christmas time is when the family comes together, and what better opportunity to capture the special moment? A good quality tripod will allow you the opportunity to be in the photograph too.

Manfrotto makes a great series of lightweight and affordable COMPACT photo kits for the everyday photographer.

Compact Series Tripod with Built-in photo/movie Head

2. If you intend to take photos with that camera bought especially for the holiday, make sure you get plenty of experience with it before you shoot the big day, as an unfamiliar camera can take time to master.

3. Try to plan in advance where the kids are going to open their presents so you know what settings works best and what gives you the clearest or best background.

4. If you find yourself in a snowy scene, be sure to turn off your flash to capture the winter magic. Otherwise you might wind up washing out the gorgeous seasonal scenery.

5. The word 'photography' means to draw or paint with light and one of the easiest and most convenient ways to do this is to use on-camera direct flash. It also happens to be one of the worst ways of lighting an image, giving harsh shadows and often ‘red eye.’ If possible, try to bounce the flash off a white ceiling to provide a softer more diffuse light. For more consistent results also consider adding a Manfrotto LED LIGHT to your photo kit, an easy-to-use constant light source that will illuminate low-light portraiture and group shots perfectly.

6. Christmas illuminations are great fun. It’s best to shoot them on a tripod using a long slow shutter speed tripod at dusk and not actually when it is fully dark, this way you get lovely crisp images with a deep blue sky.

7. If you're going to be out on the town for the festive season, consider picking up a POCKET tripod to carry in your hand bag or back pocket. The Manfrotto POCKET series attaches to the bottom of a compact or lightweight DSLR, offering added stability with flexible legs without distracting from the task at hand – celebrating.

Pocket Compact Tripod for Point and Shoot Cameras

8. Don’t be afraid to use the camera at high ISO setting, as this can often be the best way to capture the spontaneity of the day, with the kids (and adults) often forgetting you are there shooting away.

9. Spend a few minutes beforehand to work out where you are going to do the family photo. To get the best result, give yourself enough time to make it into the picture once you have pressed the self-timer.

10. Fill the frame. It does not matter how many megapixels your camera has. If you don’t fill the frame you are really not getting the best from your camera.

11. The festive party season is one of the most important times of the year to be camera-ready. Manfrotto’s STILE range offers the Nano camera pouch, providing the added protection of a stylish compact carrying option for your camera that is sleek enough to fit in your handbag or coat pocket.

Nano VI Camera Pouch

12. But above all, don’t forget: as much fun as photography is, try not to miss out on the fun yourself. It’s easy to become a slave to the camera.