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Taking Perfect Holiday Photos

Photographer Erin Manning, the host of "The Whole Picture" on the Do-It-Yourself Network, says that no matter how bad your holiday photos have been in the past, you have the ability to take quality photos of friends and family. She visited The Early Show to offer some tips on preserving those holiday memories.

The group shot:

Manning said the photographer should take charge and direct people where to go. Also, the photographer should encourage his or her subjects to smile and be expressive.

Stealth photography:

Observe what is happening and take pictures of loved ones opening a gift or playing with the kids. People don't always have to be aware of the camera in order for the photo to be good. Try shooting pictures after the action ended; she says this is when many the real moments often happen.

Come prepared:

Make sure you have spare batteries and extra film if your camera requires them. If you have a digital camera, make sure the media card has enough capacity: 512MB to 1GB is a good size.

Master your flash:

  • The quality and direction of light will dramatically impact the quality of the photo and they way the subjects look. When shooting in direct sunlight, use the flash to fill in the shadows. Try shooting pictures in open shade, which is often more flattering.
  • Film cameras often have a pop-up flash that can't be controlled by the photographer. The flash pops up according to the light conditions.
  • Digital cameras require the photographer to find the flash button, which is usually located on the back of the camera and is identified by a small lightning-bolt icon. You can elect to use the flash by pressing the icon. Try taking two pictures of the same subject, one using the flash, one with it off, and see which you like better.
  • Most pocket camera flashes extend about 10 feet, so don't use the flash if your subject is further away than 10 feet. Stand about five to six feet from the subject and use your zoom to frame the subject.
  • Use the red-eye reduction feature when you take pictures of people in low light. Red eye is caused when the light from the flash hits the eyes and reflects back into the lens. You can also reduce red eye by turning off the flash and turning up the house lights. Also, computer programs allow you to edit out the red eye. Some programs take out the red automatically.


  • Try not to place people right in the middle of your frame. If your camera has the option, divide your viewfinder or LCD screen into a tic-tac-toe board and place something of interest at one of the intersections of the lines. When the subject is off-center, the image often becomes much more interesting.
  • Be aware of your background, not just the person you are photographing.
  • Solid colors look the best. Try to stay away from stripes and wild patterns; they are distracting and take attention away from faces, expressions and the group.

    Tell a story with your pictures:

  • Mix up your shots with different angles; shoot from below or shoot from above. Take some wide shots, medium shots and close-ups. When placed together, these photos look more interesting in a slideshow or scrapbook.

    Include yourself:

  • Use a camera with a self-timer and prop it on something steady or a mini-tripod.

    For more information on Erin Manning, click here.