Pinterest Google+

The holiday season is a perfect time to gather your loved ones and take some family photos. Whether it be to send out Christmas cards to distant family and friends, or just for keepsakes to put in a photo album (or Fracture for your walls!), we’ve compiled a list of  five tips for any beginner or amateur photographer to take great holiday photos.

shutterstock_157904996 copy

1. Create your background.

Even though indoor photography is tricky because of lighting limitations, the go-to holiday card setting is usually around the Christmas tree. A quick change of camera settings or post-processing can fix this, but you could also think outside the box and spice up the backdrop a bit. If there is a local community park or open, public area that decorates for the holidays, go on a family field trip and set up shop there. Wrap your children or friends up in Christmas lights and illuminate their smiling faces while wearing elf hats in the backyard, or play in the snow and capture everyone in action in the midst of a snowball fight. (Unless you’re like us, living in the eternal summer that is Florida.) Get creative!

shutterstock_111586526 copy

2. Widen your aperture.

In order to get those blurry, dream-like backgrounds in your photography, you need to make sure you’re shooting with your aperture at it’s lowest setting. In layman’s terms, this means the lens is all the way open, allowing in the most light it possibly can and as a result, creating depth in your image when you take a picture. If you take a portrait of your children in front of the Christmas tree, for example, this setting will turn the ornaments, lights and other out-of-focus elements behind them into big, beautiful circles of light called bokeh. This is only a viable option if you’re shooting with a DSLR, and an optimal aperture setting to accomplish this would be f/1.8 or f/2.0. For a more in-depth guide on taking photographs with beautiful bokeh in them, click here!

IMG_1617 copy

3. Get their attention.

If your subjects are especially young ones, such as toddlers, small children, or even pets, it may be hard to get them to look at the camera. Of course, the subject’s eyes are the most important part of a photograph, so their attention is necessary in order to get a good shot. Rather than blurring your image by trying to snap your fingers, clap your hands or do a silly dance to get them to look while you’re taking the picture, wrap a stuffed animal or toy around the lens of your camera to spark their interest. You could grab their favorite stuffed bear or squeaker toy and let it sit on top of your camera, or purchase specially-made toys for photographers.

shutterstock_117984535 copy

 4. Avoid using flash.

Neighborhoods and homes are always more illuminated around the holiday season, so take advantage of this extra lighting and turn off the flash. Let in the natural surrounding light and embrace the warm, welcoming tones your image will have as a result! If you absolutely need to use flash, try to bounce it by pointing the flash to the ceiling or use a softbox. This will reduce the harsh lighting that a direct flash would cause.

shutterstock_163251785 copy

5. Have fun! 

The holidays are all about love and cherishing time with your family, so don’t hesitate to let them be silly and have fun while you take photos. If they let loose and laugh a bit, you’ll be able to capture those natural, in-the-moment smiles that make any photograph special and more memorable.


Don’t let these great holiday photos sit in your camera, either. Make your family’s memories tangible by getting them printed on glass.

Any success stories with holiday photos? Complete #FAIL stories? Let us know below.


The Author

Drew Allen

Drew Allen

Besides being the managing editor of this blog, I'm also a drummer, a husband, and a father, not necessarily in that order. I love good stories, and great design, and I probably quote the Office more than I should but less than I could.