The grocery stores are packed, the kids are wild and my to do list is a mile long. Must be the holiday season. You’ve got 3 days to get your cranberry sauce ready. Today I want to give you a little encouragement and a strategy for taking photos on Thanksgiving.
Growing up, Thanksgiving Day was packed full of family and food. We started the day off at my grandma’s house with a house jammed with aunts, uncles, and cousins. There was more food than we could even begin to eat. Turkey and stuffing, pies and cobblers. It was loud and noisy and you had to search for a space to eat. I loved it.
After lunch, with already full bellies, we would pack into our family minivan and make the almost hour drive into town to my other side of the family. My aunt had a beautiful table set with name tags at each place setting…it was fit for a Martha Stewart magazine spread. There were more aunts and uncles and cousins. More turkey and stuffing and the very best homemade pies. I loved that too.
Now that I’m grown with children of my own, Thanksgivings have changed. Grandparents have passed away, we’ve moved to another state, and I often find myself missing all that family and food and noise on Thanksgiving. And do you know what I wish I had taken? More pictures.
I wish I had photos of my grandma smiling as she lifted that giant turkey out of the oven and of everyone laughing when my uncle forgot to fully cook some of the potatoes before mashing them all together. Of the intricate table spread that my aunt had created or the meandering circle my large family created when we gathered to hold hands & pray before the meal.
So I hope that this Thanksgiving you’ll take a little time to snap some photos of your precious family and your own traditions….a large rowdy bunch or a quiet few gathered around a table.
The good news is that it’s easier now more than ever to take pictures. We’ve got pretty great cameras tucked in our back pocket every day and some of us even have big “fancy” ones that come out for the holidays.
However you choose to take them…just take them. Here are a few ideas of photos you’ll want to make sure to grab throughout the day:
- The Turkey-Get a close up, someone lifting it out of the oven, or it sitting in the middle of a decorated table. Did someone get the great idea to fry the thing this year? Well, you’ve gotta get pics of that too.
- People Arriving-Grabbing shots when people walk through the door guarantees some candid smiles and hugs. They’ll be so focused on saying hi to everyone, they won’t even notice you’re snapping pictures.
- The Kids-There’s nothing cuter than kids in preppy little Thanksgiving outfits or cutting out hand turkeys.
- A Group Shot-Gather everyone around and ask for a quick group shot. Yes, there will be eye rolling and groaning. Take it anyway. They’ll be glad you did. (And don’t forget to jump in it yourself…figure out your camera’s self-timer. It’s super easy.)
- The Table-Whether your table is a beautifully decorated spread or a few card tables with paper turkeys in the middle, take the picture. It’s where we gather together and it helps tell the story of the day.
- The Prayer-I love a prayer shot. I know, I know..you’re probably going to catch a lot of flak for not having your head bowed. But if you’re able, snap a quick photo of your family gathered around for the blessing (or use that self-timer again), then bow your head and join the rest. There’s nothing sweeter than a family gathered together in prayer.
- Did you notice I skipped the eating part? Let me tell you something I’ve learned from photographing countless weddings and events…people do not like being photographed while they’re eating. Nobody wants a shot of their cheeks bulging with mashed potatoes or an accidental open mouth of turkey. Yuck. So when taking Thanksgiving photos, just focus on eating your own meal and enjoy.
- Candids-Hang by the edges of the room to catch some really great candid shots. If you’re stealthy, they won’t even know you’re there. But those laughs, those sideways glances, those after-dinner naps…those are the things you’ll want to hold onto and look back on years from now.
- Traditions-If your family has any traditions, be sure to snap photos of those special things that you do every year.
Now that you have a camera roll full of memories, be sure to share them with your family. Make an online album and share it with everyone so they can download them and keep the memories too. If you have an old soul who wants the pictures in hand, get them printed and make a small album as a gift. At least print your very favorite one and frame it. Pull it out every Thanksgiving or keep it up all year long.
After playing photographer all day, you’ll see that taking Thanksgiving photos to document the whole day is actually a lot of work. But it’s also really worth it.
Before you head off to your Thanksgiving this week, let me tell you that I’m so thankful for each of you. I’m thankful that you allow me to land in your inbox every week and that you take the time to read all the way to the end of a long post like this one. I’m thankful for so many of you locals who have trusted me with your family’s photos and for the sweet emails that I’ve received in response to this blog. Here’s a big Thanksgiving hug from me to you.
Until Next Time,