Photo Tip: What to do with your elf & documenting it in photos

Jenny Starkey Photography

Whether you adore that little elf on the shelf who shows up in December or loathe the thought of all the pranks you have to remember to make him pull, or if you fall somewhere in between (seriously, it’s a love a hate relationship)- by the time we get to one week before Christmas we’re all a little bit tired and out of ideas on what to do with the elf!

While I in no way will pretend to be the most creative person out there when it comes to our elf (named Bing, by the way), I thought I would share with you some of our favorite ideas for our elf along with a few tips for taking photos to document your elf and his crazy adventures.

Photographing Your Elf:

 1. Set the scene- (hint: it’s all in the details). When it comes to setting the scene for your elf and his plan of mischief remember that it’s all about the little details. The more intricate you go the more realistic your scene will look and the better your photos of the scene will be. This is where you detail oriented people get to shine!

2. Pay attention to your background. This one ties in to paying attention to all those details. When it comes time to take pictures of your elf in all his mischief you want a background that isn’t going to be a distraction from the elf itself. This may mean opting for a simple background or, one of my favorite options, choosing a background that highlights the Christmas season such as the christmas tree, twinkle lights, nativity etc.

3. Practice photographing in low light. Chances are pretty good that you are photographing your elf late at night or perhaps early in the morning. If this is the case you aren’t going to have a lot of light and that’s ok! Here’s a few basic tips for photographing in low light to capture your elf.

1.Turn off your flash. I know this might seem opposite of what you want in low light, but whether you are photographing on your phone, a point and shoot, or a DSLR, most of the time the built in flash is not going to give you the look you want in a photo.

2. Adjust your camera settings. Since you are not using your flash you are going to need to help your camera out and manually adjust some of your settings so that your camera can use the light it does have to take the photo. If you are using your phone then I highly recommend using the camera plus app which will allow you to select your focus point as well as manually adjust the exposure (amount of light in the photo). * You can learn more about this app and the settings on your phone here.* If you are shooting in a manual mode on your camera here’s a few things to keep in mind to get the shot you want: 1. High ISO 2. Large aperture – I would open up your aperture as wide as your camera will allow (remember large aperture means a smaller number for your f stop. Most of my photos here were shot at f/2.2 ). 3. Slow Shutter Speed. Since your shutter speed will need to be slow in order to allow enough light into the camera you will need to either use a tripod or have a really steady hand to avoid a blurry image. (Want to learn more about all these settings? Be sure to look into my in person beginner photography workshop! 

4. Finally, my favorite tip of all! Don’t forget to snap some photos of your little ones finding their elf in the morning! While I love the fun images I’ve taken of our elf, it’s the ones of my kids delighting in all the fun that really capture the moments I want to remember for years to come!

Do you have some great ideas on what to do with your elf? I’d love to see (and maybe borrow!) some of your ideas! You can post them on instagram using the hashtag #tellyourstoryinphotos and tag @jennystarkeyphotography.

Want to learn more about taking great photos that truly capture your story?

I have two great option right now that will help you take better photos of the ones you love. Check out my phone photography ebook  here. 

Want to learn more about photographing with your fancy pants DSLR camera? I offer both in persona and online workshops! 28th! Get the details here! Beginner Photography Workshop