12 Quick Tips for Memorable Holiday Photos

12 quick tips for Memorable Holiday Photos.
To help make your Christmas photos both merry and bright, I’ve gathered my top twelve Christmas photography tips and ideas! With this list, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the festive props and backgrounds, capture your loved ones’ excitement, and preserve precious moments of family togetherness.
 1. Find a Festive Backdrop
Tip: Position your subject a few feet in front of a glowing holiday backdrop. 
Holiday decorations not only make your home beautiful at Christmas time, they also make excellent photo backdrops. Take advantage of the holiday decor around you (e.g., Christmas lights, Holiday wreaths, Christmas trees) and use them as backdrops for your next photos. Don’t sit your subject directly in front of your backdrop, set them a couple of feet in front to help get that beautiful blurred background. (On your digital SLR camera, set a lower F-stop number to have a subject that’s in focus with a blurred background. Learn more in my eBook, 40 Top Tips for Better Photos.
2. Establish Photo Traditions


Take a photo each year in the same pose or location; it’s such a fun way to look back and see how people grow and change through the years. We have a yearly tradition of taking the kids’ photos wearing santa hats. I just love seeing how the kids have grown each year when I look back through these photos.

3. Get in on the Action

Tip: Use a vintage action to give your Christmas photos a nostalgic glow. You can see how the photo looked before {top image} and after using an action from Addy Lane’s new private collection.
Editing your photos after you take them can be a lot of fun. One simple way to do this is by using Photoshop actions—as I’ve outlined in a previous article, 3-Minute Makeovers. When editing my Christmas photos, I love using a vintage action to give them a bit of a nostalgic feel.
4. Use a Self Timer
Tip: Check your individual camera’s manual for instructions for how to use the self timer with your specific model.
Hop in a few photos or get a shot of the whole family in front of the Christmas tree using your camera’s self timer. The trickiest thing about self timer photos is getting the camera to focus where you want it to when you aren’t actually operating it. Pressing the shutter button halfway, locking the focus where you want it, THEN pressing it all the way to start the timer is the key. Sure, it’ll probably take a few tries but its totally doable.
5. Take your own Photos With Santa
Tip: Take some candid shots of your own during a professional photo with Santa. 
Did you know that when visiting some Santas in the mall, you can bring your camera along to snap a few photos of your own? Just ask the photographer on duty if it’s ok. If they charge money for photos, you’ll still have to pay for the shot the professional is taking, but it’s totally worth it to be able to snap a few candid shots with your own camera. I love this photo my daughter Emily and Santa discussing her Christmas list at length.
6. Capture the Details

The magic of Christmas is all in the details. Don’t forget to snap a few photos of the little things that make Christmas special to you. Crop in close and let the little details take center stage—from treats baking to holiday décor to piles of Christmas cards received in the mail.
7. Shooting in Low Light
So many holiday photo opportunities take place indoors and we all know that photographing in low light can be a little tricky. Visit this post for 5 quick tips on taking holiday photos in low light situations.  
8. Take Photos of Yearly Traditions

Don’t forget to take a minute, while capturing your Christmas in photos, to showcase the family traditions that make your holidays special: those new Christmas jammies, Christmas morning breakfast, whatever it is you do each year without fail throughout the holidays. These are the details of Christmas that are rich in memories, and they definitely deserve a place in your photo albums.
9. Capture Connections
Tip: Use your camera’s zoom to get close without interrupting the moment.
With family coming together for the holidays, our thoughts turn towards enjoying time with our loved ones and celebrating the connections we have with each other. What better time could there be to grab your camera and set out capturing these special connections between loved ones? A zoom lens can help with this, so you can take these photos from a distance without disturbing the authentic moment.
10. Seek out Expressions of Wonder
Tip: Use your camera to try to see the wonder of the holidays through a child’s eyes. 
There’s nothing quite like experiencing the magic of Christmas than through the eyes of a child. Capture the wonder of the holidays by getting down on your child’s level as she gazes at the tree or at other decorations. Instead of standing, kneel down or lay down. Photograph her expression and also focus the camera on whatever she’s looking at, from her vantage point, and capture Christmas from a different view.
11. Showcase the Tree all Aglow
Tip: Use a tripod or other solid surface and set the self timer to get the clearest shot in low light. 
It’s worth it to avoid using the flash.
Getting a beautiful photo of that Christmas tree can be tricky. If you have a digital SLR, you need a high ISO and a slow shutter speed (which allows more light to reach the sensor). You also need a steady hand to get an in-focus shot in low-light conditions, so let the self-timer take over for you. Set your camera up on a tripod/chair or other firm surface and put it on self-timer mode. Frame your shot, choose your focus point, press the shutter button half way to lock the focus and then all the way to start the timer. By letting your camera do all the work, you eliminate the camera shake that can happen when you’re holding it yourself at such slow shutter speeds in low light.
12. Put the Camera Away
Once you’ve captured some meaningful Christmas memories this year, which you will have done if you tried all 11 of my tips so far, then take the opportunity to put your camera away and enjoy a few hours with your kids—without that camera around your neck. Let go of the idea that you need to preserve every moment, and simply enjoy being in the moment.
For more photography tips and tricks for this holiday season and year round, check out my eBooks, Real.Life.Photography40 Top Tips for Better Photos and Don’t Say Cheese! How to get great, natural photos of your kids.
For more Holiday photo ideas + inspiration download my FREE holiday photo checklist filled with 50 photos to take this Christmas! You can download it here or check out my printer friendly Photo Checklists with over 400 Photo ideas for all year round!
This printable also coordinates with my 2012 holiday card templates and these FREE printable thank you cards!
gift guide
If you’re looking for ideas for the photography lover on your gift list this year, be sure to check out my 2013 Photography Gift Guide where I share some of the products I use and love and ones that I recommend to my family and friends! 

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Rebecca Cooper is a 38-year-old wife and mother of four from Alberta, Canada. As a photographer, crafter, author, and blogger, she finds joy and fulfillment in celebrating everyday moments. She loves to read and eat chocolate, and is a firm believer in afternoon naps. Rebecca shares her family’s adventures, photo tips, simple craft projects + more right here at Simple as That.

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  1. Melanie Fee says

    You rock Rebecca! Thank you for this! Since I started my own photog biz, it’s seems like I don’t make enough time to take as many pics of my little munchkin… this will help & inspire me!

    Wishing you & your beautiful family a very sweet Christmas! xx


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