Easter is a dual holiday, like Christmas, both solemnly religious, but with joyful overtones for children…and that’s where you want to concentrate your photographic efforts. Easter is the first springtime holiday. Depending on where you live, nature may be in bloom, or signs of spring emerging. This time of year offers many opportunities to create some magical and memorable images.
Look for Patterns
Easter does have its own set of decorations and accoutrements (Easter Eggs, Easter Bunnies [chocolate or otherwise], Peeps candies, etc.), and these – with their kaleidoscope of colors – will most definitely make for impressive and curious photographs… especially if you collide the colors and patterns together. Sure, you’ll find repeating patterns and color and these should be the jumping off point for many of your photos. You’ll want to adjust your camera’s setting to achieve the most vibrant color reproduction (you can do this after-the-fact, but that might be too much work, when you can get the robust colors with a quick tweak of the settings). You’ll want to over-expose the images by maybe 1 to 1 ½ stops for the most saturated colors.
Easter, like Christmas, has a certain amount of “prep time” associated with the holiday that might take place a few days in advance of the actual holiday. One of those prep time activities is decorating the Easter Eggs. Be sure to capture these moments as the dye is applied to eggs. Shoot with a longer lens (80mm or a 100mm) in order to remain far enough away to be unobtrusive, and still get tight framing. Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode, select a low ISO and a wide aperture. Let the camera choose the correct shutter speed. Use an external flash (with a diffuser) to fill in any dark spots. Other candid shot opportunities are the anticipatory moments before the Easter Egg Hunt begins.
Easter’s hands-on experience is engrossing for children, and you’ll have a wonderful time sneaking in to capture intense expressions on their youthful faces. Use a 80mm - 200mm zoom lens for the most flexibility and versatility (in terms of composition, depth of field and distance from subject). Use the spot metering mode and meter on the child's face. Expressions can make or break a photograph, so this is why you want to take a many photos and try not to be noticed by your subject. If your subject reacts to the camera being around, it spoils your chances for true candid photos, which are the most interesting. Keep the aperture around f/4 or f/5.6 for the right amount of depth of field.
Use Simple Backgrounds
One of the jobs of the photographer is to guide the viewer’s eye to specific points in the picture; that’s what composition is about, and one of the controllable elements of composition is the depth of field. The photographer wants to direct the viewer’s eye, and that means not being distracted by any background elements. By having shallow, and therefore blurry, depth of field, you create separation between the main subject and the background; thus, guiding the viewer. In this photo, with it’s non-distinct background, your eyes not only focus on the little girl’s eyes and smile, but you notices the details of the braids in her hair and the green egg in her hand. You’ll need a telephoto zoom lens (200-400mm) to obtain shallow depth of field when you’re outside and might be forced to use a small aperture.
Easter, like Christmas, is a religious-based holiday and it, therefore entails a certain amount of formality to it. Easter ALWAYS falls on a Sunday, so you can expect (or at least nudge) your potential subjects to wear their “Sunday Best” clothing. This is important, because if you pay attention to clothing style and how it is worn, it will increase the production design of all your photos. As the sun is gaining strength in the spring, be sure to set the aperture at f/11 or f/16 (unless you have the camera set on full auto). This will ensure that your subject’s clothing is sharp, the colors pop and the warmth of spring will be gathered/captured in the background.
Take Group Photographs
It’s bound to happen; after an Easter egg hunt, you desire a solid, fun group portrait. Yet, getting kids to stand still long enough, while still enjoying themselves can be very tricky. You can promise them ice cream if they stand still, and suggest that all stand together and display their candy trophies. In the image to the left, the kids are excited about the Easter egg hunt (and the ice cream they’ve been promised) – and it shows, which makes for a fun photo. You can adjust the composition by having them stand in a diagonal line arranged by height, smallest closest to the lens. This spacing can add a certain level of depth to the image while giving you the smiling faces that you want.
Easter is a daytime holiday experience; so keep the exposure between f/8 and f/16 (depending on where in the sky the sun is) and use fairly quick shutter speeds (1/125 to 1/250 will suit you well), and keep the ISO at 100 for smooth images and less digital noise. If you can go lower with your ISO, then do so (some cameras allow for ISO 50) when you’re shooting outside. You might have to open the aperture and slow the shutter (to 1/60 perhaps) but you’ll have crisper overall photos.
For the springtime shooting you’ll need to have a couple of prime lenses, like a 50mm, a 100mm and even a wide-angle zoom. Why three lenses? Because you’ll want to take advantage of the speed of prime lenses and their light weight. You’re going to be outside shooting from the hip and catching shots of children gathering eggs and filling Easter baskets. You want close-ups with shallow depth of field (the 100mm), group shots and family portraits (the 50mm). For the Easter Egg hunt and it’s excitement, use the wide-angle zoom.
Easter is a fun holiday that mixes a religious core with a celebration of the rebirth of nature; you’ll want to capture those qualities in your photographs. It’s about shooting outside and maximizing the sunlight and bringing, fresh colors of springtime. Keep the ISO low, the f-stop small and the shutter fast for best results. You want to focus on capturing people’s joyous and adventurous expressions to make these photos memorable. It’s not every day that you can get the entire family in dressy clothing, so here’s your chance and you can hopefully do it under the sun.