Tips for Great Family Christmas Photos

by emilienathanson

Christmas is around the corner. Make yours last by capturing it all in photographs!

My Experience with Holiday Photos

Christmas is one of those holidays where people love to take photographic evidence of every single moment, whether it is eventful or not.  Often times people hate being in Christmas photos because the fact of the matter is the person who is in charge of the camera doesn’t know what he or she is doing.  The result of inexperience is at everyone else’s expense-when the photos come out and it seems like the photographer captured all the bad features of everyone. 


The first step to taking great photos is understanding the camera that you have.  Is your camera a simple point and shoot or is it a manual DSLR camera?  If it is a point and shoot, then all you have to do is make sure it is on auto setting and let the camera do the rest.  However if it is a manual camera, then take some time to understand how to control the settings.  If you still aren’t familiar with all the different factors of a manual camera, you are able to set it to an auto setting. 

Photo Christmas cards is just one example for how Christmas photography can turn out for the better.  Usually people taking photos for Christmas cards are professionals, but no fear!  You can take pictures that are just as good in your own home.  Last year I remember receiving my first DSLR camera for Christmas; naturally I used the camera on Christmas day.  I will have to admit that my pictures turned out HORRIBLY.  They were either blurry, too dark, too exposed…the list goes on.  Out of the 100 pictures I took, only 5 of them were presentable.  With a whole year of experience, I can confidently say that these year’s pictures will be much better than last year’s.  But this also goes to show that it is normal for everyone to take multiple pictures to become familiar and to get good shots.  Even professionals have to take a couple to get one good shot. 

With my year of photographing, here are the basics that I think everyone should have a good grasp of as a beginner.  These photographic factors can make a big difference in the aesthetic value of your photographs. 

1.       What people are wearing:

This is most definitely something that we can all control.  Good photos depend not on skill but the subject matter.  If everyone is wearing mismatched clothing, don’t ask why the pictures came out horribly!  You don’t have to wear matching clothes, but try to wear the same color tones.  Stay with warms, neutrals, or cool tones.  Accessories are good for providing variety, but you don’t want your family to represent all the colors of the rainbow.

2.       Natural v. Artificial light:

Your source of light is very important.  Certain artificial lights can be very harsh on people’s skin, causing people to look tired, older, and exposing all the blemishes.  I prefer to stick with lighting that is warm.  If possible, I prefer to use natural sunlight, however natural sunlight is only available for a short period of time during winter.  The best way to test out lighting is to photograph people in different parts of your house/other venue to see how light turns out. 

3.       What’s in the back:

Often times what makes or breaks the picture is not what is in the foreground, but what is in the background.  If you taking a family portrait of people surrounded by clutter, then the photo is going to come out bad.  The background plays an important role in the overall composition of the photograph.  I like to photograph people behind clear and clean backgrounds such as fireplace, tree, Christmas decorations. 

4.       Don’t limit it to people:

Sometimes the best photographs to capture a holiday memory doesn’t involve people per say.  Don’t forget that you can take pictures of things, food, gifts, etc by itself.  I am a big fan of close up shots that capture the detail of everything. 

5.       Candid photos are best:

      People like to pose for photographs because they believe that is the best representation of themselves.  However I find that the best photographs are candid photos.  Most of the time when people smile for the camera, it is a feigned smile.  If you can capture a candid smile, then you are on your way to becoming an experienced photographer! 


Who usually takes the Christmas photos?

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People's Christmas Photos

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Photo Lesson

Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as ...
Updated: 12/13/2011, emilienathanson
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