Five Ultimate Photos you MUST capture this Thanksgiving

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Every year, a day or two after thanksgiving, after the food has been served, the family entertained, the kids and grandkids hugged and kissed, and all the leftovers eaten, I look back and feel sad that I didn’t get enough photos of the day.  You see, for me all of the responsibilities of hosting the Thanksgiving dinner means it’s the one day of the year that I set my camera aside and miss capturing those moments.  This year I’m determined that it will be different because I simply don’t want that regret after the holiday.

PIN Five Ultimate Photos for Thanksgiving

A Thanksgivng Photo Challenge

I welcome you to join me in my Thanksgiving photo challenge…  I will be focusing on capturing these five photos this year…  and I’ve given myself a list of additional photos that I may look for, in addition to these main shots.  My plan is to think ahead, so that I can spend less time searching for creativity during the busy-ness of the day and more time relaxing and enjoying my friends and family.

1 - Dinner Prep

When I look back on years of Thanksgiving past, I always remember my mom cooking up the Thanksgiving turkey and then in the last few minutes’ rush before dinner was actually served, she would whip up the homemade gravy from the turkey juices.  That, along with my grandmother’s homemade stuffing, a recipe passed down through the generations, is what Thanksgiving dinner is made of for me.  So, this year I will make a special point to take a picture of someone I love doing something in prep for the day’s events.  Think creatively…  maybe for you it will be someone setting the table just so, or your crazy uncle carrying in the pumpkin pies that he makes every year…  whatever it is, capture your moment of food prep!

Mom making Thanksgiving gravy

2 - Carving the Turkey

Hey!  Maybe you don’t eat turkey for your holiday meal!  Whatever you eat, I bet it’s some kind of traditional meal.  For us, turkey is a staple.  Over the years we have added a small ham, but we still have our standard turkey.  It wouldn’t be thanksgiving dinner without that turkey crammed full of grandma’s stuffing and mom’s homemade gravy…  When I look back on our annual holiday dinner, I would love to have commemorated the moment of that turkey being carved.  The additional bonus is I get to keep an eye on my husband, so I know if he sneaks a bite of the best part while he carves it.  Win-win!

Thanksgiving turkey carving

3 - A Favorite Dish

At our Thanksgiving dinner, we have some standard side-dishes that we just can’t go without.  This year, I challenge myself (and you) to take a photo of one of those traditional family dishes in a creative and beautiful way.  Get low with your camera and take a view from the side.  Be sure and follow the rule of thirds when composing your shot.  Or stage your dish in a beautiful serving bowl and take a photo from the top straight down.  Either way, food photography is a great way to bone up on your composition and focus.  After all, it is a stable subject that doesn’t move once you’ve got it right where you want it!  If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can take several photos of different dishes until you’ve captured a lovely collection of all of your thanksgiving favorites!  Put them all together with the others on this list and you’ll have a perfect little holiday memory book to send out to your guests, maybe for a super fun Christmas surprise in lieu of a card!  I love to use Snapfish for this kind of little project.  They have great prices and great deals once you’re signed up for an account.  Click HERE to check out the Snapfish website.

Thanksgiving salad

4 - A Group Photo

Of course, a holiday would not be complete without a picture of everyone that’s spending the day with you.  A couple of years ago I set up the tripod and used the remote to capture my whole family around our dinner table.  It is not going to win any photography awards, but it sure does commemorate the day and who was there.  When I look at this picture I remember that this was the first year my son and his bride celebrated Thanksgiving as a married pair, and my parents had not left for their winter down south, so we got to enjoy their company that year, which is a rare and special thing.  Some of our favorite old Tupperware pieces are on the table, and although they certainly aren’t works of art, they do bring back memories of dishes I’ve used for years at the holidays.  This picture just makes me smile.  Sadly it is a rare photo and one I commit to capture again this year with those who love us enough to grace our table for the holiday.

Family at Thanksgiving dinner table

5 - A Genuine Interaction

This one might require you to take a quiet breath away from the busy chaos of the day.  Find a moment to step aside and just watch your family and friends interact.  Even if you are having a quiet thanksgiving with just a friend or two, make this your opportunity to really capture a moment of connection.  Maybe it’s a happy moment, or maybe it’s a poignant moment in remembrance of someone missing at this year’s table.  Either way, this is what memories are made of, and where a photo becomes more than just a snapshot, but a tangible reminder of the feelings of the day.

A moment of connection between father and son

Once you’ve completed these five basic challenges, you might find that you’re in the photo groove and ready to conquer some extra shots to fill out that Thanksgiving mini album.  So as a bonus today, I’m including a list of 25 photos you MUST take on Thanksgiving Day!  Clip this handy card out and keep it nearby on Thanksgiving day so you don’t miss a moment!

Graphic 25 photos you MUST take this Thanksgiving
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Alina Georgiev, Newborn Photographer
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  1. I am the worst at capturing photos too! We are in Canada so celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago. The only photo I captured was during prep before all the fun began. Each year I say I am going to do better and I always remember too late. Thanks for posting this reminder, here’s to trying to do better at Christmas!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one! I find that if I give myself permission to take just a few photos and not capture every single moment, I at least get a few. I get almost none on Christmas. It’s really deplorable that I’m the photographer and I barely touch my camera on Christmas day.

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