The Christmas Photographer

We’ll be on the road this Christmas Day (again.) Off to Sydenham to Maria’s brother’s place.

Taking a trip on Christmas Day brings along two of my best Purgatory moments – driving in crappy weather and taking family photographs at Christmas.

The weather looks pretty good for the 25th at this point, so maybe I’ll be spared moment #1. But #2 never gets old.

About 50 years ago, I decided that my best efforts as a photographer would be in landscapes. I never wanted to work for Sports Illustrated or be a wedding shooter. Generally, landscapes don’t move, have their eyes closed, or don’t pay attention.

Add to that the frustration of family photo shoots – especially Maria’s family. At least one member (cough! her mother! cough!) is the world’s worst photo subject. If she isn’t talking and distracting others, she’s looking down at her shoes or off-camera somewhere. I won’t publish some of the horrors here, but Maria has put together a slideshow for her mother’s 90th birthday and some of my best work is in there, NOT!!!! I simply don’t have the patience or stage presence to keep her or the rest of this group of deplorables in line.

So my strategy is to try to get near small groups and photograph them. Sometimes this works (sorta.)

Christmas present opening frenzy is another time where most of my work is horrible. About the only time I manage anything worthwhile is with individual activity.

Add to that the fact that you are photographing in low light and most of the time need a fill flash, and a flash ticks off the grandkids (Teddy most of all.) It’s a labor of love.

About the only thing positive I can say about Christmas Photography is that it documents times and events. The grandchildren grow, the old folks get older. You get the idea.

I’m still thinking about what is the best photographic tool to take along on our Christmas odyssey. My choices are:

  • Smartphone: Yes I’ll take it, no I probably won’t use it. My experience is limited with using a smartphone camera, and mine isn’t the best example of the art. Maybe if I wanted a selfie (Eep!) or pics of sliced turkey and veggies I could use it. But that’s not my objective.
  • Travel camera: It’s tiny and lightweight and I normally would use it. It isn’t the best in low light but it would probably be OK for some lunchtime snapshots. I haven’t ruled it out.
  • DSLR: The largest and heaviest option, but as I already need to take a laptop for Maria’s slide show, I can just toss it in the backpack. I won’t take a complete system and heavy flash, just the camera and one lightweight zoom lens. This camera is the most versatile and takes the best photos, plus I look more authoritative toting it around. Maybe people will quit talking, texting, web surfing and scoffing down appetizers long enough for me to get a few pics and escape. We’ll see.

I guess this post is gonna have a sequel with some examples of shock and awe on the 25th. See you on the other side.

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