Holiday Essential Tip: Take Perfect Party Snapshots

 Yellow Dog Productions/Getty

Want to capture your family's holiday moments on film but unsure of how to go about framing the perfect portrait?

Us Weekly enlisted the help of photographer Robyn Penn of Maui Maka Photography to give Us her top three tips on how to take the best possible holiday snapshots.

PHOTOS: Celebs dressed up for the holidays

Read article

"Put some thought into the subjects you'd like to capture," Penn tells Us, adding that looking online for holiday image ideas can help spark creativity. When taking photos at a party, our expert suggests making a shot list, which will include all of the people, places and things you want to capture. On Penn's typical shot list: Individual shots of each person, different combinations of group shots, areas with good lighting or textures for portrait shots, details of ornaments, the food and drinks, and of course, an image or two featuring the photographer! "Doing your homework allows you to be more relaxed and present in the moments — a relationship that will show through in your photographs," Penn says.

PHOTOS: Celebs' hilariously awful holiday sweaters

Read article

"Don't be afraid to get intimate with the details that matter," our expert photographer explains. "Give each photograph a focus by honing in on what caught your eye." To get unique holiday shots, Penn likes to play around with different angles, by standing above partygoers or crouching down to a child's level while they open presents. "Don't be scared to experiment — especially when it comes to digital media. There are no mistakes!"

PHOTOS: This week's top star news pics

Capturing the essence of one special moment is so important, and as Penn tells Us, no holiday photo album would be complete without a series of "golden" shots — the ones you almost feel guilty taking credit for. "Don't forget that when you are looking back in 10 years, a boring closeup of your uncle's face could mean more to you than it did at the time," Penn reasons. "Try to balance your candids, but don't be afraid to control your environment to pose the shots that aren't coming together. As a photographer, you need to know when to be assertive and when to go with the flow."

For more from Robyn Penn, visit her web site,

WIN IT! To help capture holiday memories this season, Us is giving away a Nikon COOLPIX S9100 digital camera. To enter, email your name, address, daytime phone number and age (must be over 21) to You must put 'Holiday Photo Essentials' in the subject line of your email in order to be eligible. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, December 7. Click here for official rules.

For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!