My Family Christmas.

ContactSheet-001

My Xmas contact sheets

My Xmas contact sheets

Above are the contact sheets for the images I took over Xmas. This was a quiet Christmas that I spent with just my parents. Normally there are other family members that visit or we visit family abroad. I wanted the images to be natural and an accurate representation of everyday life over the festive period.

Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve.

Richard Billingham was my influence for this first image. I wanted a candid image of my family sat on the sofa similar to Billingham's.

Richard Billingham was my influence for this first image. I wanted a candid image of my family sat on the sofa similar to Billingham’s.

I have used a diptych or singular style to present the images. I opted for this as I wanted the sequence to be chronological and some of the images worked better when combined.

This was taken from my own arm chair in my lounge. The chair I sit in is where I always sit, either alone or with company, its my own chair, anyone is welcome to come in but not sit in my chair.

I had been working long hours on the run up to Christmas so Christmas Eve was a nice chance to relax. This was also the first day we were all together so the festive period could really begin, and it began with chocolates. The second image continues the sequence, as per normal there is nothing worth watching on television so we all settle down with books or magazines. One of the things I quickly realised that the light available was quite poor and that I had to shoot on high ISO’s in order to get a workable shutter speed. I used Photoshop to reduce the noise in the images.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Christmas Day and after breakfast we open presents. The first thing I notice about these images is the change in the white balance. The evening images were shot under artificial lighting and they have a warm colour tone, these are lit by natural light from the window and have a cooler much more natural tone to them.

I was sat in my chair again and waited to open my presents while I took these photos. I chose these two as the first shows one person examining their gift whilst the other begins to tear the wrapping off a new one. The second image shows that first look at a gift as it emerges from its covering.

Going Out

Going Out

Tina Barney

Tina Barney’s images were often posed or staged. I wanted to attempt something similar so I took an posed image from my car.

It became a family tradition to go out for dinner on Christmas day many years ago and I took this in the car before we set off. I volunteered to be the designated driver so everyone else could have a drink. It was quite a wet and grey day but quite mild for the time of the year.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

This next image was a fun and candid moment and it reminded me of the above image by Richard Billingham.

This next image was a fun and candid moment and it reminded me of the above image by Richard Billingham.

We had pre-booked at a local pub which is very popular and was very busy when we arrived. There was a good atmosphere with many people coming out to enjoy themselves. The table had been laid with a festive theme and I took the first image as my parents pulled a cracker. I was back in the low light and even with a high ISO and wide aperture it was not possible to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. However after spending some time looking at the image I have grown to like the action blur as I feel it reflects the image content. The next image was taken quickly between courses. By now the beer and wine was flowing and they were feeling a little less self-conscious. I like the second image as the moment looked natural and spontaneous. They were aware that I taking pictures but I waited before shooting for the moment. Getting the angle for these was tricky as I was using a fixed focal 28mm lens forcing me to move back so I was almost sat with the people on the table behind. I opted for the 28mm lens because it gave me a much wider aperture and I thought this would be better for the poor lighting.

The end of the day

The end of the day

This image finds Richard Billinghams mum resting on the sofa, When I saw my own mum lying on the sofa I thought of this and grabbed a quick picture.

This image finds Richard Billinghams mum resting on the sofa, When I saw my own mum lying on the sofa I thought of this and grabbed a quick picture.

At the end of the day we all came back to the same chairs we started in. This time I decided to tweak the white balance to give the more natural tones. We watched the Christmas day television and relaxed. My mum prefers to lie down in the evening, she gets tired and often falls asleep.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day

Having thoroughly indulged the previous day then we opted for a lighter meal in the evening. The tabled was laid with festive intent and we settled down with a bottle of red wine, but prior to that I took a picture of the setting. I used a low angle and a shallow depth of field in order to make the Christmas tree lights give me a nice bokeh effect. I was also thinking about my next shots when everyone has sat down and I wanted to get an idea of how it might look. The illumination was low so I had to have a high ISO and I used a fixed 28mm lens with an aperture of f/1.8.

Tea Time

Tea Time

I needed to be quick with these two shots as the food was getting cold so my preliminary images were vital.

I used different areas for my focus but chose these with my focus in the foreground and the people becoming blurred. I like this effect as the image was about the meal so that was in focus and with the focus blur the subjects became part of the scene, almost incidental. I also like the way that they appear unaware of the camera and the image takes on a candid ‘fly on the wall’ feel.

The Outside In

The Outside In

After Tea we headed back into the lounge and into our customary seating positions. However rather than take another image similar to my first I wanted to try something different. I headed outside and took a picture of the front of the house. I used spot metering for the first image and it made the image feel moody and atmospheric and the second image I moved closer to give the viewer the full picture. Overall I like the creepy voyeuristic style to this, almost as if someone is peering in through the window, watching people live their lives. I thought these two images were a good way to end the sequence.

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