When that first attack of Spring Fever hits, my favorite thing to do is organize a quick outside cook-out or picnic. The most often invited and most important guest at my cook-out or any other family and friends get-together event is my camera. My sons all say, “Here comes Nana, Jr.”, as I pull out my camera(s). So, you see, I inherited this gene – from my Mother, who is now 97 years young and has 25 and counting scrapbooks of her own. Not archival-safe, I might add; but I will get it all done one day.

Taking photos is the perfect way to capture once-in-a-lifetime memories, record the color, action, facial expressions, sizes, ages and emotions that are part of every celebration and family heritage history. Here are a few tips to help make your pictures extra special!!


A tripod will ensure a steady camera and great pictures. If you don’t want to lug around a full-size tripod, try a tabletop model. Now available are tripods small enough to fit in your camera bag or purse, when collapsed. They are light in weight and capable of holding a small to medium-size camera. Especially at indoor events, try setting up the tripod on a counter, high enough to position the camera at chest level. When it’s time to gather a few family members or friends for a photo, pose them within your camera’s viewfinder or LCD display, set the focus, press the 10 second, self-timer button to generate the exposure. You have just enough time to join the group for the picture, if you desire, and your picture will be perfectly centered, focused and all faces included!


Bring all the basics for your SLR or digital, i.e. extra batteries, lens cloth, tripod and plenty of film or memory for digital image storage and your ac/dc charger. It’s ALWAYS when you don’t bring batteries that your SLR battery decides to die!! You may take pictures all day with your digital on only one set of batteries or one charge, but when you are in a group, you constantly show the pictures in Playback mode, which is a big drain on the battery. The tripod, you can always use. Extra film and extra digital memory is critical if you want to continue photographing until the last guest leaves. Suggestion: It is well worth the investment to buy a 128 or 256 MB card for your digital – I purchased both of mine on Ebay at well below retail costs, even including shipping. Make sure you are buying your specific brand and that it is “new” in wrapping.


“CAPTURE” the action!! I use holidays, parties and celebrations as a great opportunity to play family historian. Use colorful decorations as a backdrop to tell the event story. Without them knowing, you can zoom in on people talking, children playing and traditional activities, i.e. opening presents, blowing out birthday candles, little cousins kissing, etc. all documenting your families history. Your pictures will be more dramatic by getting close to your subjects, either with the camera’s optical zoom lens or by standing closer to the action. I would suggest avoiding the use of the digital zoom, because it degrades the image. Using your camera “portrait” mode setting, you can capture great close-up photos of 1-2 people. The camera will focus on the faces and widen the lens aperture to limit the range of focus, making the background soft and less distracting. A frontal view or a side view will result in different perspectives. Look for unusual angles to take your pictures. Try squatting, especially for “little” people. Or shoot from the side to create a narrowing angle from the closest subject to the ones farther away. Suggestion: If your camera has an “Aperture-Priority” mode, choose a large lens opening or small f/number to make the distant background go out of focus. A small lens opening, large f/number will keep all in focus!!

REMEMBER….a photograph always tells a story!!!

Photographing a special event gives you the opportunity to “capture” the ERA!!! Take pictures of the decorations, clothing or costumes, where the function is located, building, scenery, and any signs that illustrate the theme. Think in terms of “telling a story” or “creating” a scrapbook page. It doesn’t take too much time before this becomes automatic!! If it’s a birthday, anniversary, or retirement party, snap the stacks of presents, decorations and the cake, with and without the celebrating person(s) in the picture. Capture any expressive faces you can. Don’t be shy about photographing strangers, getting closer to the subject of the picture or getting in to any position you think will enable you to capture a great photo!! People expect to see cameras at these functions. If they’re caught up in the activities, they are not likely to notice your activity. If you feel extremely uncomfortable, ask permission. Most people are flattered by a request to pose for a photograph, even though they may initially say any variation of, “You don’t want MY picture!”

Have fun yourself and make sure you get in some of the photographs!!! Then after developing or printing your photos, get them in to archival safe album for posterity…………..SCRAPBOOK them!!!

Any questions, please email Grandmommyandme@aol.com...thanks, Donelle

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