How to Prevent Blurry Photos This Holiday Season

All of your comments and emails got me thinking about another photography tip, How to Prevent Blurry Photos This Holiday!

Let me ask you this…Are any of you experiencing blur as you try to grab the perfect Christmas photo of the kids? If the answer is a frustrating “YES”, read on!

In DVD 2, Beyond the Green Box, Brian and I do a lot of teaching on what we refer to as The Big Three: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO.

If you’re taking photos of the kids and one child is in focus but the other three are not and you want to prevent blurry photos, start thinking of an Imaginary Glass Wall–the name of this photo tip. And then after thinking the words “imaginary glass wall” think Aperture.

Brian and I love low F-stops (2.8. 2.0, 1.8 and even 1.4 at times). What does this mean? The lower we go in our F-stop, or Aperture, the more blur we have in our background. A lot of old school photography will say you should have an F-stop of 8.0 to 16. This means that every thing in the picture is in focus. But we think the creativity and story telling comes from what we choose to focus on and not focus on.

See the image below. Mom and baby’s hands are in focus, but the baby nursing is way out of focus because it was a very low F-stop, or in other words, low Aperture. The F-Stop was a 2.8 at least. The story of this image is about the intimate, touching points and connections between a nursing baby and their mother.

 Me Ra Koh, The Photo Mom, shows you how to prevent blurry photos this holiday season

But when you are trying to take a great family picture, and you want nice blur in your background with everyone in focus, you have to think “Imaginary Glass Wall”.

This is what I mean. I often tell my portrait clients to pretend like there is an Imaginary Glass Wall in front of them. Their mission is to have the tips of their noses touching the same imaginary glass wall as their brother or sister next to them. By saying this, I’m trying to get them all on the same plane. With all their noses touching the same glass wall, they are perfectly lined up, all on the same plane, and I can have a low F-stop, get my blur in the background and everyone stays in focus. I have to add that I’m always amazed at how the youngest of kids will understand this request and do it in a heartbeat.

 Me Ra Koh, The Photo Mom, shows you how to prevent blurry photos this holiday season

But the moment one of the people in the shot moves closer to me or moves farther back, the group is no longer ALL in focus.

 Me Ra Koh, The Photo Mom, shows you how to prevent blurry photos this holiday season

In this above shot, I was shooting at a 2.8 F-stop/Aperture, focused on the oldest son, and this blurred the dad and younger brother in the background. But if all three had put their noses up to the Imaginary Glass Wall, they’d all be in focus.

Is this making any sense? 🙂 My fingers are crossed.

So if you want a shot of your chicklens with all of them in focus, you’ve got to make sure your camera has the aperture/F-stop to at least a 4.0, maybe even 5.6. (If these numbers don’t make any sense to you, try DVD 2, and it will all be clear! Promise!)

When we do the group bridal party shots or family shots at weddings, I bump my aperture up to a 5.0 or 5.6 to make sure everyone is in focus, just in case someone moves on me and doesn’t have their nose up against that Imaginary Glass Wall.

Try it out and let me know if this helps you prevent blurry photos this holiday!  Post a photo or your comments on my Facebook page, I’d love to hear from you!

For an exercise that is all about White Balance settings to make Christmas trees photos look great in color (don’t freak out–White Balance is WAY easier than “they” make it sound) read my post Christmas Tree Photo Tips and White Balance!

A big thanks to the Welk Family and Jessica for letting me share their portrait photos as examples on how to prevent blurry photos! You guys are the BEST!