Thanksgiving Photography

Thanksgiving Photography

Looking for creative Thanksgiving photography ideas for warm holiday photographs of your family and favorite dishes on Turkey Day? Check out the following tricks and tips to highlight fall’s harvest and festive holiday atmosphere.

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20 Thanksgiving Photography Tips

Check out the following Thanksgiving family photo ideas and tricks you should try to take professional photos. With their help, you will definitely put your photography skills to the next level.

1. Don’t Forget the Behind the Scenes

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The camera shouldn’t be turned off until everyone sits at the festive table. Open new horizons in your Thanksgiving photography and shoot the preparation for the celebration. After dinner, go to the kitchen and take some pictures of skewed food.

2. Take a Picture of the Prayer Process

images of thanksgiving dinner with family

If at Thanksgiving Day is an ordinary ritual for you it is worth taking a moment when all family members hold each other's hands.

3. Take a Group Photo

images of thanksgiving dinner with family

Make sure you take a couple of group shots where you will capture all the family members and guests. You can shoot the family sitting at the festive table or outdoors.

4. Shoot the Process of Roasting a Turkey

picture of thanksgiving turkey dinner

One of the most extraordinary Thanksgiving photo ideas is to capture the moment of roasting turkey. Due to the dark atmosphere in the oven, you can get trendy pictures in the dark food photography style.

5. Take a Photo of the Festive Table

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Before the whole family sits down at the table, you have the opportunity to take some beautiful Thanksgiving pictures of the dining place with the main attributes of the evening and additional decorations that are usually sold on multiple channels during holiday sales.

6. Capture Emotions

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The most essential part of shooting the Thanksgiving celebration is to capture significant moments when people are thankful to each other, children’s smiles as well as the joy and excitement of all family members. Don’t pay too much attention to the things around. The main thing is to convey people’s emotions.

7. Take Candid Shots and Behind-the-Scenes

picture of thanksgiving turkey dinner

Occasionally, the most successful photos are those that feature some interesting and behind-the-scene moments. I can say with certainty that it is one of the best Thanksgiving family picture ideas. Take striking photos of what is happening in the kitchen or the way the mistress of the house is taking the roasted turkey from the oven. If you always pose people, the pictures will be similar and dull. Don’t forget to shoot the way everyone is enjoying the holiday without paying attention to the camera. No less catchy will be the pictures of the turkey carving.

8. Take a Picture of the Interior

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On Thanksgiving, people often decorate the front door and their courtyard. It seems to me that it is not fair to leave these efforts only in memory without taking a couple of shots. I prefer photographing such scenes in the evening when the yard is illuminated by the light from the windows.

9. Use Natural Light

thanksgiving photo shoot

Nothing makes your delicious meal look worse than orange artificial lighting with incandescent ceiling lamps or halogen bulbs. Put the dish near the north-facing window and illuminate it from behind. Try to keep food out of direct sunlight. With the help of the natural light, it is possible to accentuate the color, shades and unique texture of your dish.

10. Plan Funny Activity

a picture of thanksgiving

Shooting some activity is more interesting than taking photos of people who are sitting in armchairs and watching rugby. Therefore, before the game starts, take a Thanksgiving family picture of some members playing basketball or football and take a few photos outdoors. Instead of shooting children watching cartoons, ask them to make several turkeys from the construction paper. This way you will be able to shoot several close-ups showing the activity and their creative interaction with each other. In addition, there is nothing better than capturing concentrated and creative facial expressions of the kids.

11. Focus on the Details

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It is great to have a wide-angle picture of Thanksgiving dinner in the family circle. However, to make the pictures catchier, I recommend focusing on the details. If there are some antique plates on the table, just take beautiful pictures of them. Perhaps, you would like to shoot somebody’s hands mixing the salad. Pay attention to the fizzy water, champagne and take striking images of sparkling drinks. Shoot close-ups from below and take gorgeous photos across the dish.

12. Make Sure Your Props Are Clean

pictures of thanksgiving dinner

When you shoot the dinner table, make sure the glasses and all the flatware is clean because the slightest dirt will be visible in the frame. Make sure that everything is in perfect condition in advance in order not to spoil a good shot. The only exception is the cooking process.

13. Use a Good Camera

It is up to you which camera to choose. You can use your smartphone with high performance. However, if you want to receive photographs which you can print for your holiday album, you will need a professional gear.

It is better to pick a DSLR or mirrorless camera that is capable of taking pictures with a high level of detail and quality.

14. Use a Tripod

pictures of thanksgiving dinner
  • Check out Tripod for Thanksgiving photography.

If you want to get steady and sharp group food photos, you should use a tripod for your camera. It does not have to be expensive or high-tech, it must have a high factor of safety in order to support your camera. In addition, it must also have an adjustable height for different types of Thanksgiving photography.

15. Sometimes You Will Need an External Flash

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One of the most useful Thanksgiving picture ideas is to use an external flash. Most commonly, interior lighting may cause an unappealing effect when taking food and group shots. By keeping an external flash at hand, you will be able to properly place your subjects and get more uniform lighting compared to the in-camera flash. For a better effect, I recommend you to reflect flash on the ceiling or the wall opposite the subject.

16. Use Remote Control

thanksgiving photo shoot

In order to get the best Thanksgiving photos of your family, it is better to use the remote control. Firstly, it will be useful for those who shoot a home party and want to be in the frame with the family. Secondly, with the help of remote control, you do not have to spend time setting up the camera.

17. Use a Zoom Lens

For a Thanksgiving photo shoot, I recommend choosing a 24-105 zoom lens. In this case, you will have the opportunity to shoot either portraits or close-ups of food and accessories. In addition, you can place quite a large number of people in one frame.

18. Mind Your White Balance

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I recommend shooting in RAW in order to have more opportunities for image color correction. Pay special attention to the white balance to make orange overhead lighting in the room less visible. It is possible to customize white balance changing your camera settings to "Custom WB". Then take a test shot of a white sheet of paper in the room you are shooting.

19. Mind Your ISO

picture of thanksgiving turkey dinner

In order not to spoil your Thanksgiving family pictures, it is necessary to control ISO settings. The ISO value should be adjusted for the particular lighting conditions. If you use natural light, then adjust your ISO at the lowest possible value. This will allow you to get a rather fast shutter speed for taking a sharp picture. Moreover, you will receive images with a minimum amount of digital noise. If you carry out a photoshoot in low lighting conditions, use the highest possible ISO to have a rather fast shutter speed.

20. Use Black & White Mode

thanksgiving clip art black and white

A black and white effect gives your photos a film-inspired look which is ideal for candid and detail pictures. One of the biggest advantages of shooting in B&W mode is that you visualize the scene from the perspective of dark and light shades.

Freebies for Editing Thanksgiving Photography

After a successful Thanksgiving photo shoot, you will need to edit your images in Lightroom or Photoshop. That is why I have collected these helpful tools which are absolutely free.

Free Lr Preset “Magic Thanksgiving”

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This preset can add more light to food photos. It also makes the pictures more interesting and unique.

Free Ps Action “Color Tone”

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This free action will help you edit portrait photos. It allows you to improve skin tone, make it more attractive, bright and vibrant.

Free Ps Action “Warm Effect”

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This PS action significantly improves the color palette of the food photos as well as makes them warmer and more mouth-watering.

Free Lr Preset “Contrast”

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This LR preset will enhance the contrast as well as the white balance in any Thanksgiving portrait photo.

Free Lr Preset “Cinematic”

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This free preset will add more mystery and a stylish movie effect to your family Thanksgiving picture. It is great for indoor portraits with unusual backgrounds.

Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more