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The Daily Dish How to Holiday

A Celebrity Photographer Shares the Secret Sauce For Taking Great Holiday Photos

Capture the most wonderful time of the year in style, using these tips from a pro who knows. 

By Staff
Kyle Richards Mauricio Celebrity Photographer

As a Nikon ambassador and celebrity photographer, Matthew Jordan Smith knows a thing or two about snapping flattering photos. (You know, the kind of photos that won't make you instantly untag yourself when they pop up on Facebook.) And since this time of year calls for plenty of documentation — how else will you remember that time an elf tended bar at your cousin's holiday party? — we thought we'd tap him for some tips. 

Keep scrolling to get some best practices in place before posing your besties in front of your Christmas tree, taking your pooch to visit Santa, or trying to get your whole extended family into one group photo in front of the fireplace. Jordan Smith also gave us the secret sauce behind snapping a great food photo. So even if your sugar-free-pumpkin-pie experiment doesn't taste so great, it will look like a million bucks.

How can you find your most flattering angle when taking an outfit of the day photo in the mirror?

Everyone has their "best side" but your most flattering angle for taking pictures will come when the lens is slightly higher than you. When the lens is slightly higher, you look slimmer and your features will look their best.

How can you find your most flattering angle when taking a selfie?

For selfies, the same rule applies for having your camera higher than your face. You don't want to go too high so holding your camera just slightly above eye level will give you the most flattering selfies. For an added bonus, turn your body at an angle to add more dimension to your images.

How can you find out the most flattering colors to wear in a photo?

When it comes to color, there isn't one color that looks great on everybody.  If you aren't sure which colors look best on you, stick to classic cuts and neutral colors. Your images will feel timeless, clean, and polished. 

What are the best places inside a home to take a photo in terms of lighting? Does it differ from day to night?

Part of the secret in taking a great photograph is definitely centered around lighting. During the day when the sun is out, look for a window and stand facing the window so the light coming in your home is illuminating your face. 

What’s the best way to take a photo with a lit Christmas tree?

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‘‘Tis the Season 💋

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Everyone loves photos by a beautifully lit Christmas tree, and the best way to ensure you have your subject and your tree looking great is to put your subject (or subjects) by a small light source. For example, have your subject stand or sit by a household lamp, so the light illuminates your subject's face as you have the Christmas tree in the background. Be careful with using on-camera flash in this situation unless you are familiar with adjusting your camera settings.

How can we get the best large family group shots during the holidays?

Large groups are always a challenge in any situation, but one trick to getting great group shots is to shoot quickly and shoot a lot. Once you have your group together, instead of just doing the standard "everybody look here" pose, start taking photos before everyone is ready and then try and get everyone's attention. Shoot the moment before, during, and after everyone is ready. You'll have great moments on both sides of "the posed" group shot and you'll have fun doing the group shot.

Any tips for using the self-timer setting on a camera for group shots?

Today, one of the best ways to work with a self-timer device is to upgrade to use a wireless remote to trigger your camera. This way, you can have the remote in your hand and take multiple photographs instead of running back and forth to the camera to only take one image.

Can you share best practices for taking photos with/of pets?

Pet photography is similar to working with young children: You must be fast and be prepared for the unexpected. Try to photograph your pets in situations where they are comfortable. Try to use natural light and work in an area with few distractions. Also, it will also be helpful to have the least amount of people around as possible with pets. The less distractions the better.

Any tips for taking photos of food/drinks/décor at holiday parties?

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Thankful ..

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I find myself taking photographs of my food often these days and one tip to help you get the best food images is to move in close. You don't always have to show the entire plate to give a sense of a great meal. Try also adding a human element to your images like a hand with a fork in motion. The most important part to all photography is to have fun and capture your life and the things you enjoy. 

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