Day 1 - make a party photo booth
Make an instant photo booth just by plugging your camera into a TV. Add a tripod and a $10 remote control for the camera (or use your camera’s app) and you have all the fun of a booth with instant replay, and you can share the photos with everyone too. The key ingredient is the remote control - it leaves you free to enjoy the party and everyone can just relax and play when they're in control.
You can kick it up a huge notch and create an instant studio for $200 by adding two cheap radio-controlled flashes: one to freeze people in action and the other to make the background bleach out white. We do this at conferences, weddings, graduations and our own children’s parties, and it’s ALWAYS a screaming hit. The cheapest reliable flashes to do this indoors are 2 x Godox TT600 flashes, and they'll work with any brand of camera that takes a flash sitting on top.
Here's the set-up if you're using flashes.
One flash sits on the camera to light the people - point it up at the ceiling or slightly behind the camera for smooth, flattering bounced light. It sends a radio signal to fire the other flash that blasts the background to white.
$30 at a dollar store will get you a lifetime of dress-ups if you'd like it more raucous. Expect people to take LOTS of photos - normally over 1,000 in a party so have spare batteries handy.
How to set it up:
- Check what size of HDMI socket your camera has, and get the right HDMI cable to plug it directly into your TV - the cable rarely comes with the camera.
- Check what remote control your camera takes - many can use a $10 infra-red remote control, or use the app to shoot it from your phone.
- The key is finding the right spot to set up - the more depth the better. Get the people as far as you can from the background to let it go blurry and to let you light it separately from the people. And the further the camera sits from the people, the less background you need - you make up the distance with your zoom.
- Choose your background - a plain wall, a bedsheet or a curtain work well. Add balloons or decorations for fun.
- Not using flashes? Put the camera on a tripod or a shelf and set it to P mode. Play with exposure compensation to get the shots looking nice, and turn up the ISO until moving people aren’t blurry (it’ll be high if you’re indoors).
- To use flashes, first make sure you have enough depth - it won't work if the people are close to the background. Set the camera to Manual mode, ISO800, f/8, 1/160th sec (or your flash sync speed), manual focus or broad area autofocus. One flash sits on the camera aimed straight up at the ceiling or slightly behind the camera to light the people with smooth bounced light; the other flash goes behind the people to light up the background, but make sure its light doesn't spill over the people or they'll go white too. Play with the power level of the background flash first to get the background to bleach white - it's easier to get pure even white if the flash is further from the background - at least 2m back is ideal. Photographers obsess over getting perfectly even white backgrounds and we use two or more flashes on the background - don't worry if yours isn't perfect. Then set the power level of the flash on the camera until the people look good. You can leave the settings there all night and shoot away in your DIY studio.
Day 2 - your photos as cards and gifts
Your family likes having your photos more than you think. Turn them into cards and presents. Here are some off-the-wall ideas...
Make a Jigsaw
Use a photo that they would like on the wall - especially family moments. Pick your size and the number of pieces - go 1,000 for the dedicated. We like Jigsaw Puzzles Australia for good printing and speedy delivery.
Art on your bin
Boring bin or nice bin? Up to you! Add the house number to personalise it.
Beautify your street on bin day. Abstract photos look great. Pro tip: don't use a portrait! We like Wheelie Designs. The prints look lovely, last well (mine's still perfect after a year), and they have templates on the website so you know it'll fit.
Forgot a Christmas card or thank you card?
The Australia Post Postcards app for iOS is our favourite app of all time. Send your photos as postcards, printed and delivered for $2, straight from your phone with your messages. I haven't bought a postcard since getting the app. It makes holidays easy. Or try Touchnote for iOS, Android or your computer - more pricey but more options for cards and gifts
Day 3 - Create a video keepsake
Make an annual video interview of kids and grandparents
Time flies by so quickly and even now when I look back on photos from only a year ago it's hard not to notice how many more grey hairs are catching the light. But I see it even more with my kids and my parents, a year in their life makes a huge difference. Christmas can be the perfect opportunity to capture a keepsake that will be priceless to you in years to come. I've been developing this idea over the last few years - click the image for a couple of examples to get you on the right track.
Try making your own video interview. It doesn't have to be a lengthy memoir, just a few questions to get their take on life right now. You can do this easily with your phone, set up in front of the Christmas tree and go for it. Make sure things are quiet as noises will be distracting. If you have a tripod, try using that so that wobbles don't get in the way, and so you can focus on being the interviewer and not having to be the camera person as well. Try your own list of questions or here's a few below to get you started. Ask both the kids and the grandparents the same questions to get a good comparison of the age range. You can interview them either together or separately, you'll be surprised on how different and how similar their responses might be.
- How old are you?
- Kids - What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
- Grandparents - What was your favourite thing about Xmas as a child, and now?
- What's the most fun thing you've done this year?
- What are your plans for this year? Do you have any special goals, dreams or things you'd like to achieve this year?
- Were you good or bad this year? What presents did Santa bring you?
- What the best present you received this year? Grandparents - What's the best Xmas present you can ever remember receiving?
- If you could tell Santa one thing, what would it be?
If you start this as a tradition this year you'll end up with a irreplaceable keepsake for your family in years to come.
Day 4 - Special offer - 10% off our most popular gift vouchers until Christmas
Save up to $214 on our most popular vouchers and packages through to Christmas. The discount is already applied at checkout. Not sure if it's the right voucher? They're all exchangeable up to the end of January
Phone us on (07) 3255 8811 or click here to book.