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Framed photographs make great gifts for family, friends, and coworkers (just about anyone on your list).  They don’t have to take much time to create and they’re a wonderful expression of your love and creativity.

This week and next, I’m going to tell you about the three types of photos that make the best gifts.

Today, I’ll focus on the most popular one. And next week I’ll fill you in on fine art prints and destination photos — two more smart photo offerings. (Now, don’t run out and take a whole bunch of those this week. The tips I give you next week might surprise even a professional photographer.)

That said, let’s get down to this week’s focus: The kind of photo people like most to receive…

Pictures of their grandkids and loved ones!

Here are 6 tips for taking better “people” shots this holiday season and turning them into thoughtful, sentimental gifts your friends and family will cherish for a lifetime.


To get the best shot when you’re photographing people, keep these guidelines in mind:

** 1) Get in close. Try to fill the frame of your photograph with your subject rather than capture the whole room in one picture.

** 2) When you’re shooting a group, keep everyone as far away from walls and backgrounds as possible, a few feet at least. We are always tempted to line everyone up against something, but that makes for a very flat image with possible shadows on the wall behind your subjects. It’s far better to have some space between the people and the background.

** 3) Try to catch your subject doing something other than simply smiling at the camera — making cookies, walking the dog, talking with grandparents, and so on. Watch for those “magic moments” that simply sing “this is who I am, this is me, my life, my story.”

** 4) Move your subject to the window. Fluorescent and incandescent lights found inside will tint your photographs. Instead, use natural light coming in through the window. (Just be sure that the light is even. You can run into the same sorts of problems with bright sun streaming through a window as you can outside under the noon day sun.  So watch out for harsh shadows.)

Also, you don’t want the light directly behind your subject nor behind you, the photographer. Watch to be sure your shadow is not falling on your subject.

** 5) Turn off your flash. Your on-camera flash can cause harsh shadows and wash out the natural colors in your photos. If you don’t have enough light in the room, try to brighten it up — open the blinds on the window, switch on another lamp (but be sure that the lights are not directly behind your subject). Or, if you have an external flash, put it at about a 45/65 degree angle and “bounce” it off the ceiling (if the ceiling is white or light).

** 6) Set the stage yourself to capture really memorable shots. Say you want a shot of your kids making cookies, but your kitchen is small and there’s either not enough light or there’s enough of it but it’s all fluorescent lighting.

Instead, “set the stage” in the living room. Set up a table in the living room near a well-lit window (time of day will be important here).

Stand the children facing the window as they work. If you don’t see the Christmas tree or something in the background that looks festive, get in close and try to eliminate as much background as possible.

Make it extra special and invite Grandma over to help. Soon, everyone will forget all about you with the camera snapping away and you’ll get some great shots.

The results could be the kind of photos that will not only bring tears to Grandma’s eyes and be treasured by her — but treasured by you and your children as well, for years to come.