Christmas is one of the most exciting times of the year, the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, holiday decorations, faces wide-eyed with wonder and most of all, a time that highlights the importance of relationships and making memories.

Here are some Christmas photography tips to help you to capture those memories…

Prepare – Making a List, checking it twice…

Making sure you’re ready to capture the shots you want is key to a successful shot. Get your camera settings tested and nailed before the chaos of the day begins.

Make sure your camera is cleaned, batteries are charged and you have enough room on your memory card for the photographs you plan to take. If you have an external flashgun, check it is working ok and you have spare batteries.

Consider the lighting in the room you’ll be taking photographs in. Is there enough light? Will you need a flash? Are backgrounds cluttered and distracting?

If you are going away for Christmas – DON’T FORGET to pack the camera kit and battery charger – you’d be surprised!

Capture the preparation stages

Opening presents and Christmas dinner are probably the main shots you will plan to take but don’t forget that there are other photographic opportunities:

Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photograph courtesy of boldsky
  • Putting up decorations
  • Detailed shots of the presents under the tree
  • Food preparation
  • Setting the table
  • Family and friends arriving
Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photograph courtesy of Serenta Flowers

Take after shots as well – if you’ve taken your Christmas table all set ready for dinner why not take a shot afterwards so you can see the ‘before and after’. Remember to take the shot from the same position.

Christmas Lights and Decorations

Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photograph courtesy of Picture Correct

Christmas lights and decorations are found in nearly every Christmas photograph. There‘s nothing worse than a photograph of a Christmas tree taken with a flash! Turn out any lights or lamps so only the tree is glowing …get out your tripod and try these settings as a starting point.

  • ISO: 1600
  • Aperture: f/2.8 or as low as your camera settings go
  • Shutter speed: 1/30 to 1/50 range
  • Ignore your exposure meter, as it will read that you are overexposed

Use a model in front of the tree, children looking at an ornament, sat reading a book or playing with toys are all good subjects

Now focus on your subject and snap away! You may need to play around with your settings.

If you are a more experienced photographer you may want to use the Bokeh effect to photograph Christmas lights.

Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photo Credit: Christmas Kiss by Jack Russell (Flickr)

Photographing People

Compose your image with as little headroom and dead space at the sides as possible.

The eyes are the most important feature of any portrait so make sure you focus on them.

Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photograph courtesy of

Take photographs that define and express relationships. Get people to laugh and smile, capture candid moments, position your family in ways that emphasise the joy the season brings.

Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photograph courtesy of Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale

If you need to use flash, deflect it from the ceiling to avoid washing out those vivid Christmas colours

Fill your Frame

Photography tips for a Happy Snappy Christmas
Photo Credit: Incredible Snaps

One of the most common mistakes in Christmas photography (or any photography) is that the subject often ends up off in the distance on the other side of a room with lots of space around it. Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom or getting up and moving yourself closer. While this is one of the simplest tips, it is one that can have the most profound impact on your shots.

Shoot in Continuous Mode

There are certain moments during a Christmas gathering that are filled with all manner of photographic opportunities.  Switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and take lots of shots at this time of the festivities. You’ll find you end up with an excellent series of shots that capture the excitement of the day. Opening presents is a great one for this.

Be sure to refer to you camera manual if you need help adjusting Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO on your camera.

And don’t forget….

With photography practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice!

Have a Happy Snappy Christmas!

Sources: Digital Photography School/Lifehacker