With the emergence of the advent period, there’s bound to be a significant influx of Christmas-related photography all over social media. While not necessarily a bad thing at all, recent history suggests that the better portion of these can be somewhat unoriginal or straight forward appalling quality-wise. Following are a couple of hints to keep in mind if you’re aiming for an original, tastefully muted and unfussy Christmas photography, something akin to the popular Kinfolk Magazine photo aesthetic! Note that this will also involve a couple of post-production hacks!
Lights before Action
Light is the secret ingredient of a legitimately authentic Kinfolk aesthetic, which actually is not that much of a secret at all. Although a lot depends solely on the matte finish you’ll use later in the process (we will return to that), light is, of course, an essential attribute. First off, you need to make sure that there’s a lot of natural light incoming, preferably the hue you might get on a cloudy spring afternoon when the season is at its peak. We do, however, realize that it’s a lot to ask for considering that it’s the peak of winter right now. Instead, try to take table top Christmas decor photography utilizing the hue you get on a winter morning.
Avoid “Golden Hour”! The beautifully warm tonality will make the picture devoid of any wanness you originally pursued. Here the requisite “washed-out” aesthetic is a must! Christmas bulbs coming from the cool end of the colour spectrum and pieces of hay next to a couple of white candles on a washed-out table top actually encourage a slight over exposition for an additional effect!
Keep in mind that the winter sun, because of its inability to reach the zenith, provides more pleasing illumination that highlights the textures whilst making shadows appear deep and long. This would work great with a set of rustic, hand-poured candles, dropping their long silhouettes on an espresso brown plank wall!
Set your ISO to a sensible 200 and the aperture to f/2.5, thus allowing more light to reach the sensor. You’ll be able to perfect the picture with the local adjustment brush or apply a barely visible vignette in the same Adobe Lightroom environment later on. Capturing the Kinfolk Christmas vibe directly via your DSLR (or any compact camera compatible with the RAW mode) can be a bit harder than it seems at first. However, it’s definitely worth a try. First and foremost, you have to use the already mentioned RAW mode. This, in turn, will provide complete control during the editing process as well as the chance to adjust the white balance. And when it’s about Christmas decor, packed in the trademark Kinfolk styling, these things really do matter!
Another reason why Kinfolk imagery looks like an analog photo dream is because the contributors of the magazine mostly use analog cameras. Not only because such an approach turns the whole process into an authentic and almost ceremonial experience, but also because the limitations set by these devices are actually rather liberating. Following are some of the models these guys are actually employing to acquire the ever-trendy Kinfolk aesthetic:
- Contax 645
- Canon EOS-1V
- Contax T2
- Canon A-1
- Olympus OM1
- Canon IV
Also, the Kinfolk crowd views shooting with the light meter as an absolutely mandatory thing! Without it, unless you’re seriously experienced, it’s granted that everything will simply look amateurishly underexposed. If your analog camera doesn’t have a built-in one, look it up, for it’s a valuable piece of equipment that’s thankfully adequately cheap. Another interesting hack is to go over the limits with your film. Shoot 2 stops higher or 1 stop below the prescribed ISO! Most of the colour negative films are rather flexible and will survive the experiment.
A typical “Kinfolkish” Christmas composition would include deep and cool (colour-wise) greens, silver decor (little Christmas stars, Christmas bulbs, garlands), a bit of a golden accent, preferably one that has lost its former flashiness, rough wooden surfaces with rustic tablecloths, wooden carvings, and preferably a cup of Christmas cocoa. Try to set up these Christmas decor compositions near windows! Besides providing marvelous winter daylight, it will also allow you to try out subtle-looking semi-silhouette photography! Keep on scrolling to discover how!
There’s hardly a better way to embody the “Kinfolkish” serenity than by taking semi-silhouette photos of spray-painted branches with white porcelain figures hanging between them, or a deeply green advent wreath in the center of a window framework! Here’s how it goes. Shoot in Aperture Priority or Program Auto mode. Don’t use the flash (this, in fact, goes as a general rule for obtaining a Kinfolk aesthetic), but try to adjust exposure correction to +2. The ISO level, depending on your lens, ranges from 400 to 800. These settings should provide nice semi-silhouette photography. The only thing is, what to do with it thereafter?
Post-Photo Shooting Activities
Although you might seek the service of VSCO, there are numerous other ways of acquiring the feathery and unobtrusive Kinfolk vibe. One of them is to do manual adjustments in the Adobe Lightroom environment. Here you can try to adjust the Tone Curve section. To do so, go down to the bottom right of the square with the diagonal line in it. There you’ll find another little square figure with a line crossing it. By clicking on it, you’ll be allowed to manipulate the curve in the big square. Once you’re allowed to do that, click somewhere in the first third of the line (no need to be scrupulous since you are simply making an anchor point). Then go to the bottom left and lift up the whole line about 13%. That’s it; you have the cool matte finish. Additionally, you can manipulate Shadows in the Split Toning section to acquire the greyish-blue hue and cool off the highlights. The one rule to stick to? Don’t let the overkill happen. The whole Kinfolk charm really is about the “less is more” philosophy.
Recreating the Kinfolk look for your Christmas photography is not simply about mimicking the slow, serene lifestyle module the publication seemingly propounds. More than anything, it’s about stripping it back to the basics in order to highlight the core elements that make up the whole Christmas ambiance. Remember that the most satisfying results can be then used as decoration for your accordingly designed austere interior, and My-Picture.co.uk will gladly step in to guide you through the process!