Christmas Presence.

In Life Is Short, News & Stuff, Vision Is Better by David33 Comments


In the coming days, if you’ve not done so already you’ll see all kinds of articles about making better holiday photographs. They’ll be filled with advice from the banal and obvious, to the dubiously helpful. Mostly they’ll be written to drag people to their blogs, and increase traffic, when those same people should just shut the laptop and be with loved ones. So I’ll keep my own thoughts brief. And then I’ll shut my own laptop and I’ll come back sometime after our own celebrations on December 24th and 25th.

Do you want to take better holiday photographs? Bring a camera and show up. Spend more time with your friends and family. Arrive earlier, stay later. Laugh harder. And be truly present. Step back once in a while and listen to the laughter, observe what’s really going on. And make a lot of photographs. Because honestly, many of them won’t be your best work. But years from now you won’t care. Years from now even this season’s worst photograph will mean something to you when some of the friends and family that are present now are no longer with us. Out of focus, poorly exposed, hastily composed, they’ll mean more to us than the very best of our work, because we won’t be after Facebook “Likes” or re-tweets on Twitter. We won’t give a damn if it gets pinned to Pinterest in the face of missing the ones that mean so much to us.

Want better holiday photographs? Be present. Be there and intentionally make the moments you will look back on, in the worst of your quickly-taken snapshots, and remember as moments in which you were alive, laughing, giving, playing, and in the presence of a beauty in front of which the greatest landscape will feel lifeless:  the love of family and friends. Every year we welcome new family, and collectively we all painfully say goodbye to people whose presence we’ll long for for the rest of our lives. Even the poorest photographs of those people and our shared moments with them will be worth more than any gift we give or receive. No photograph in the world will bring back your baby girl’s first Christmas or your grandmother’s last. Be there. Presence beats presents every time.

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, whether it’s the winter soltice, Christmas, Hanukkah, or the astonishing fact that we made it around the sun and found life in her light for one more year, I wish you the very best. In hope against hope, may this be the year for peace on earth, light in the darkest corners, and water in the driest lands.

With Gratitude and Love,
Merry Christmas, friends.


  1. I get photos of the kids using their toys after the day is over. I get photos of the decorations throughout the month. They bring back the moments and the feelings that otherwise would be lost and forgotten. I always put my camera away on Christmas so I can be present at the moment. I get photos of the kids using their toys after the day is over.


  2. Pingback: David duChemin est sur Photo Tuto pour Fêter la Fin d'Année !!! (et 3 livres de l'auteur à gagner en partenariat avec les Editions Pearson) - Blog Photographie Féminin pour Apprendre la Photographie

  3. Pingback: Good Tidings of Christmas! |

  4. Merry Christmas, David. Thank you for all that you have done, and for all the advice. Your ability to speak to the masses in a way that feels like a one-on-one conversation is a true gift. Your heart and soul for life is truly inspirational.

    May you have a wonderful Christmas and I hope that the new year is filled with love, laughter, peace, harmony, prosperity, and most of all memories that will not only last a life-time, but beyond.

  5. Merry Christmas David.

    Thanks for a great year of inspiration and learning. Much appreciated.

  6. Thanks David!
    You are not only writing about photography with a great skill and expertise but you are also helping us (as photographers)
    to understand what we are looking for taking a picture of a moment of life and the beauty of our world.
    Difficult to explain…but I feel good reading what you are writing!
    Merry Christmas and a Great 2014 !

  7. It’s wonderful when someone posts something that has meaning not only for the holiday season but for the entire year. Perfectly said, David and wishing you and yours all the best for Christmas and a wonderful 2014.

    Thank you for your compassion and wonderful words and images. You inspire me every day.

  8. Very true. This advice can be good for any situation where we gather with friends and family. Merry Christmas! I’m thankful for your photography advice and encouragement. Luke 2:7

  9. Wise words, thank you. Richest blessings to you and your loved ones in this season of love and light!

  10. Well chosen Words, David. So true. And a merry Christmas to you, too! Keep up the good work.

  11. That’s really deep and touching…thank you David, and Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones!

  12. Great post. One of the biggest complaints from my family is that they rarely see the family photos I take. I have to reverse that trend!

  13. Awesome!!! Thank you!

    I always put my camera away on Christmas so I can be present in the moment. I get photos of the kids using their toys after the day is over. I get photos of the decorations throughout the month.

    This year, perhaps our last one with all 4 kids, I’ll be deliberate about photos of them and treasure every second with all 4 kids.

  14. David, your thoughtful posts always bring a sense of calm to battle the crazy that’s always knocking at the door. Thank you for that. Wishing you a very happy holiday season and an adventurous New Year!

  15. Thank you for your thoughts and words.

    They are so right on and so true.

    My family “snapshots” are truly treasured down through the years. They bring back the moments and the feelings that otherwise would be lost and forgotten.

    I wish you and yours a very merry, peaceful and joyous holiday season and I second your “hope against hope“ for the new year.

    May the Scotch be good, the food delicious and the company delightful!

  16. Merry Christmas to you as well David, nice little article for those who listen!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.