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October surprise: Capture the fall season

October surprise: Capture the fall season

Recently I was in Wisconsin photographing my nephew’s wedding. The first thing I noticed was the amazing fall color on the trees. In Southern California, the seasons just blend together.

I’ve never seen the palm trees change color. It’s always my reminder of  fall in SoCal when the pumpkins begin to appear at the local supermarkets.

Fall is  a great time of year to get out and take some photographs, but as the days get shorter you need to get out early to the  capture those dramatic snapshots.

It’s also the time for me to get out my favorite annual holiday tips for getting through the assorted celebrations that seem to occupy this time of year.

My apologies if I get t00 repetitive year after year, but these suggestions don’t seem to sink in with you procrastinators. Get out there and capture those magical moments of the season. It’s probably not too late to check out your local Oktoberfest. I just received a coupon from Groupon for half off at the one near my house.

Always remember to follow through from start to finish and tell a story. The most overlooked are preparation photos, which might include baking, decorating, shopping, setting the table or eating.

Pumpkins are one of my favorite subjects. They’re colorful and take on a life of their own when carved into jack-o-lanterns.  And, of course, they never talk back.

It’s always a fun time around our house with the kids carving pumpkins. My kids are adults, but they still enjoy the activity. We had a pumpkin-carving contest last year and we enjoyed it so much, we are going to do it again this year.  Last year, I posted the results on Facebook and let people vote. How’s that for social media?

Reminder No. 1: It’s never too early to take those family pictures for your holiday card. I always want to get this done early. Last year I said the same thing,  but I waited and never got a nice photo everyone liked. I know it’s hard to arrange everyone to be at the same place at the same time, what with busy schedules. I’ve had 25 years of practice on this one and it’s still a chore.

Reminder No. 2:  It’s never too early to start thinking about those photography gifts like framed prints or personalized mouse pads.

OK, stay away from mouse pads,  they’re probably a tacky gift.

Let’s review:

1. Pumpkins — Nothing says more in Southern California about the holiday season. They’re so much more creative than zucchini or celery. Follow the process from start to finish, tell a story. When shooting  jack-o-lanterns, be sure to include a night shot of those glowing creations; that’s always a crowd-pleaser.

2. Halloween — Is there a better holiday for pictures? It’s nature, brisk weather, comfort food, costumes and holiday parties.

3. Leaves — While we don’t have the dramatic change 0f  fall colors in Southern California, if you look hard, you’ll find some fall-looking leaves. It might be a little late to plan the trip to Vermont.

4. Table settings — Don’t forget to photograph a decorated table before everyone digs in. Plan a few close-ups first and then back out and get a few wide-angle shots. Practice a few times holding the camera steady without a flash, especially if you have some nice available light. Don’t blow out the natural light with your flash; those candles can make creative warm lighting. Remember to change your angle here. Try resting the camera on the table as a tripod for one or two photos.

Don’t forget to get everyone enjoying the meal;  this means stepping back and getting everyone in the photograph. Trade off taking photos and get in the picture yourself. There aren’t  many photographs of me at family events.

5. Photography related gifts — I’m getting a little  repetitive,  but it’s never too early to start thinking about giving some really nice photography gifts.  I just went shopping with my wife at our local framing store and bought 10 frames  — 5×7 and 4×6 — for photographs we just had printed. It’s simple, not that expensive and  is really appreciated and will be hard to re-gift.  It’s so much easier than navigating the crowded malls and more thoughtful than a gift card. Once you take the time to do this, you won’t regret it.

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