The best part of Christmas photography is ultimately the countdown. This is just as important to photograph, as it helps to maintain the memories and creates a great festive atmosphere when looking back in years to come.
Make sure that you’ve got your camera ready when wrapping presents, putting up decorations, decorating cookies, enjoying hot chocolate by the fire, laying the table, decorating the tree and most importantly placing the star on the top.
Here are 7 Christmas photography tips for you to put into practise during the festive season.
The Christmas portraits that really shine have the focus point set on the subject’s eyes. The eyes show genuine emotions, that will make your portraits glisten with heart-warming memories.
This is where we look when talking to a person, and the same goes in photography. We automatically look straight to the eyes, therefore it is vital to make sure that they’re in focus.
For Christmas group portraits though, you’re going to be safest using a smaller aperture. Start off shooting at F/11, particularly if there are children in the shot who might not stay still for long enough.
If you do have wriggly children in your shot, make sure your shutter speed goes no slower than 1/125th to avoid motion blur.
To set the Christmas spirit in your shots, get up close with your subjects in order to fill the frame. One of the wonderful parts of Christmas photography is spending time with your family, who are more than likely already comfortable being photographed by you, so experiment!
To ensure that your images clearly set the time of year and the celebration, try to include some of that dashing décor in the background of your images, like the Christmas tree.
Who doesn’t love the traditional family photograph? Whether it’s for next year’s Christmas card or simply to remember the day, it is essential to get it spot on.
Sit everyone down in front of the tree and surround them with presents or decorative objects to truly set the scene.
Use a tripod and self-timer so that you don’t miss out too! Try not to leave any empty space in between people, as this can give the impression of omission.
Throughout the day, try to take some candid group shots too, family members laughing, pulling crackers or carving the meat.
These often turn out to be the favourites, as they show the emotions of the day.
Lighting your scene correctly with your Christmas photography will make a huge difference. This is especially true if you are trying to emulate the magical atmosphere.
Indoor lighting can be tricky with the warm Christmas lights. Make sure that your white balance is set correctly for your wonderful white Christmas lighting.
Generally speaking, the higher your Kelvin number, the cooler your shot will appear. This will differ in every house as not everyone uses the same bulbs.
Household lighting tends to cast warm tones. Therefore, you will need to counter it using an incandescent white balance setting to counteract the warm colour temperature.
Image: Light balanced to daylight (left) or add warmth with a lower Kelvin number setting (right).
Taking your Christmas photographs in Aperture priority (A/Av) mode allows you to take control over your depth of field.
This removes the headache of worrying about shutter speed or ISO. Shooting in aperture priority gives you easy adjustment options throughout the day. As well as for quick transitions between candid portraits and close ups of delicious food.
You’ll be able to move between large and small apertures is simply at your fingertips.
For example, think of a shot of the family sat around the table. You may want to use a mid to small aperture (F/8) to ensure everyone is featured clearly, whereas a bauble on the tree would require a large aperture (F/2.8) for that stunningly out of focus, evergreen backdrop.
There’s nothing better than seeing the elation on a child’s face upon discovering Santa has been during the night, eaten his mince pie and left a sack of presents!
Santa’s visit plays a major role in Christmas photography. Especially with younger children, therefore capturing the joy is essential.
To make sure that you don’t miss a shot, switch your camera to burst mode (or continuous shooting drive mode) so that you can absorb every second. From the moment they wake up to the very last gift, their faces will glow, their smiles will be natural, and your photographs will be timeless.
With wrapping paper being flung around the room, beware of the busy background, make sure that your eyes are drawn to the main subject with nothing too distracting in the back.
To work around the problem of a busy background either zoom in close to your subject (which compresses the background) or use a large aperture such as F/2.8 to blur out the background instead.
The little details of Christmas Day make it special for you. Be sure to snap up every precious moment; from the first realisation that Santa has dropped in, to playing with new toys in Christmas pyjamas.
Detail shots are just as important as the portraits. Little close-up shots such as the wrapping paper, the decorations, presents, the festive food and the empty plates (hopefully) are all great details which add flavour and stories to your Christmas photography memories!
Use your camera’s close-up/macro settings to get your shots as close in as possible.
Double check everything is prepared before the big day. Don’t forget to check your battery is fully charged, your memory card has been formatted
Maybe try out a few test shots the day before so you know what the lighting will be like indoors. Ensuring your camera settings are prepped and knowing where the best angle of view is in your house will save you a lot of time later on.
Take note of the colour balance of your shots and adjust it in-camera to give you camera confidence that you won’t have to spend ages readjusting in post production.
But most importantly after you’ve completed all your Christmas photography, sit back and relax… and enjoy your day!
After all the rush and excitement of the day, don’t forget to take time out and steal a few moments for yourself to reflect upon the big day.