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With Christmas just around the corner, I wanted to write about different must have photos this holiday season. I was so excited to put up my Christmas Tree, I put it up right after Thanksgiving was over (you know, to give Thanksgiving a chance). When do you usually put up your Christmas tree? Are you a Christmas nut or do you like to give Thanksgiving a chance to run first? It depends on the year for me! This year I’m a Christmas nut!! I’m so ready for Christmas.
I am so excited to photograph my son and daughter opening gifts together (well, my daughter will most likely be chilling on the floor, since she’s still so young).
I’m also so excited to capture their first Christmas together! It’s going to be an awesome Christmas, that’s for sure!
check out my 21 Perfect Gifts for the Photographer in Your Life post
plan your photos
It might sound a little silly, but I find that planning the photos I want to take really helps me get the photos I want! That being said…spontaneous photos are awesome, too! Let me help you plan your images and give you an idea on how to do it.
First, make a list of must have images. Do you want Christmas lights? Do you want Christmas tree lights in your images? Do you want a picture of your child opening presents? Do you want a family portrait? Do you want to take pictures in Christmas pajamas? Think about what types of pictures you want to get. Make a list. Do you have that list? Alright, next step…
Write out a plan for each item on your list. Do you want a family portrait? How are you going to achieve it? Are you going to use a tripod? Where do you want this family portrait? Do you want everyone looking at the camera or interacting with each other? Get the tripod out and find the best place to set up before Christmas day! Yes, that’s right, plan WAY ahead (you’ll thank me later!!). Do you want to use natural light (usually yes unless you have nice off camera light equipment). Do you want to use a remote or a timer?
Have I got you thinking of ways to plan your Christmas photos out? Write it ALL down. I mean all of it! Once you have a solid plan, Christmas photos go a lot smoother. But *disclaimer* just because you have a plan, does NOT mean that you will get the perfect image! You may have to settle. I want to point out that Christmas is meant to build memories. So after you get the shots that you want, PLEASE put the camera down and enjoy your family for the rest of the day!!
5 photos to take this holiday season
Next year I really need to take some nice festive Thanksgiving photos…but for now, you’ll have to deal with just Christmas images!!
1. the Christmas tree
You can’t forget the Christmas tree! It’s a must have image for sure! And the great thing about Christmas tree photos is that there’s so much you can do with it! You can get REALLY creative! Let me give you a few ideas to get started…
- SHOOT THROUGH – shooting through the Christmas tree is really fun and creative! It will give you a feeling of peering in on your subject. It also creates depth to your photograph. And plus, that beautiful bokeh! I mean, come on!
- TREE BEHIND – shoot with the tree behind your subject. And again, it creates bokeh. If you play with your apertures you’ll get different effects with your bokeh! There’s also a fun tutorial out there to make heart or star shaped bokeh. That would be fun to try out!
- TREE AND PRESENTS – Capture what your tree looks like with presents under it! My tree seems to look different every year – so I definitely want to capture what it looks like this year, because next year it will just be different. This is especially true if you have homemade or cute ornaments that don’t match (my hubby is OCD about his ornaments and I am too, come to think of it!).
- SHOOTING DOWN – If you have a little, like I do, then you can place your little under the tree and capture their wonder of looking at Christmas lights for the first time! This perspective is so fun. Be sure to include some lights to create bokeh!
Remember that if you are taking pictures of the Christmas tree, it is important to have a high enough shutter speed to avoid any camera shake or blurriness to your images. I recommend a shutter speed of at least 1/250. HOWEVER – if you take an image and realize your image is still blurry, INCREASE YOUR SHUTTER SPEED. And compensate on ISO or aperture. It’s always important to have a high enough shutter speed to avoid camera shake.
Pro Tip: If you want BOKEH then be sure to have a LOW aperture (i.e. f/1.4 or f/1.8) that will open up your aperture the most and allow the lights to come through bigger. There’s also fun things you can do such as make different shaped bokeh, like hearts or stars. I have yet to do this but it looks like so much fun! If you try it out, let me know how it worked out for you. 🙂
2. a christmas tradition
There are so many Christmas traditions out there. From decorating the tree, to making cookies, to opening presents, to making Christmas dinner. Pick a tradition and plan on photographing it.
Pro tip: Plan the set up before it happens. If you want to make cookies, make them during the day and make sure you have good light in your house that day. Some things you can’t plan out beforehand, but the things you can plan ahead for, do it! It helps a lot to get the picture you envision in your head.
Remember that the most important thing about the holiday season is to be present and there. So get the shots you want and then put your camera away!
3. christmas pajamas
I love getting Christmas pajamas and photographing my children in them!
Amazon always has some really cute pajamas and I’m excited to buy some pajamas for my kids. I found the pajamas below on Amazon. My favorite one for baby girl is the second one with the gold on it. I also love the one all the way to the right for my little boy.
I always like to get Christmas pajamas for myself, as well, but I don’t have the best luck with that. Maybe this year I will. We’ll see!
Do you have a favorite tradition like this?
4. focus on the details
Christmas has so many sweet details. Like the decorations, the lights, the wrapping paper, the gifts, the snow, etc. Try to think of how you can capture the details of Christmas. What makes Christmas, Christmas? The details! I’m actually really bad at focusing on the details, so I hope to try to do this more this year.
Some ideas I think I might try are: drinking hot cocoa, the cute decorations, Christmas lights, pictures of the gifts wrapped, and the presents we get.
Let me know if you have any tips on capturing the details, I’d love to hear about it!
5. a family picture
I definitely plan on getting an updated image of our family on Christmas day. I try to include Christmas colors in my Christmas day picture. We always have a special Sunday either before or after Christmas where I like to dress up all Christmas-y. This is usually when I take the picture of our family.
I can’t wait to add baby girl in our image this year! It’s becoming a tradition to get in the frame for Christmas.
If you’d like some tips on how to take self portraits, I’ve got you covered.
What are some must get photos you always get on Christmas?
Alyssa (sometimes going by Aly) is a hobbyist photographer who loves to teach. Her love of photography started before she ever had any kids. Now a mom of two, she loves to photograph her kids, flowers, and landscape. She specializes in capturing her everyday life. She loves to teach fellow beginner photographers how to take control of their cameras and get the images they dream about getting.