Prepare beforehand. The night before a get-together, make sure that your camera battery is charged, and your memory card has been emptied (it’s also wise to have an extra one on hand, just in case). If you’re used to taking pictures with your smartphone, follow the same principle: ensure you have sufficient memory freed up to store new photos, and plug it in so you’re running on a full charge and can snap away all night if you want to.
Snap now, delete later. The beauty of digital photography is that you can take as many pictures as you want, until you get the perfect shot. But the party is not the time to start sorting through and deleting photos. Focus on taking as many as you deem necessary throughout the evening—you can delete some later and keep only your best shots.
Be creative. Try different compositions and avoid always taking pictures of one or two people centered in the middle of the photo. Take some shots from further back and others from close up, put your subjects off centre to the left or right of the frame, and don’t always wait until they pose. The best photos are often taken on the spot: friends giggling together, a cat attacking the bow on a gift, a grandpa hugging his grandchild… Yes, group photos where everyone is looking at the camera make for great memories, but you’ll enjoy reliving the more spontaneous moments, too.
Turn off your flash. We have a tendency to think that a flash is always necessary when it comes to taking pictures inside, but the artificial light it emits is rarely flattering. Try to use it as little as possible, but nothing is keeping you from snapping two versions of important pictures—one with a flash, and one without.
Hold your camera steadily. The less natural light there is, the more important it is to keep your camera steady in order to get a picture that is crisp, and not blurry. If the room is not well lit, try not to move the camera during the photo and ask your subjects to hold their pose for a few seconds more. If the shot is still too blurry for your liking, you can always take the pic again with your flash turned on, as a back-up plan.
Use burst mode to get all the action. It can be harder to capture situations where your subjects are not still—young children unwrapping their gifts, for example. In this case, check to see if your camera or smartphone has a burst mode; it will allow you to take continuous shots as long as your finger is on the shutter. You can then choose the best frames afterwards.
Enhance your pictures. Nowadays, you don’t have to have a diploma or know how to use complicated and expensive software in order to fix up your pictures. Whether on your smartphone, tablet or computer, there are several applications out there that let you crop, resize and adjust your photos, or even add interesting filters and effects. Think of programs like iPhoto or Snapseed, and online services such as Photoshop Express or Pixlr.