8 Tips for Photographing the Holidays

The holiday season brings with it a unique energy, from bustling days of gift shopping and social events to momentous family trips and heartwarming celebrations. In this flurry of activity, there will be plenty of moments (big and small) to capture on camera, and you’re sure to end up with a big collection of holiday pictures

As you document your holiday story, be sure to take pictures with different kinds of content and camera techniques. Then when it comes time to create a holiday photo book or turn your favorite holiday pictures into custom wall art, you’ll have a collection of memories that reflect all the joy and wonder of the season. Your seasonal photos also make great gifts to share at any time of the year.

Here are some essential photo tips and holiday picture ideas to get you inspired.

1. Create a story around family and friends

At holiday gatherings, we tend to take a lot of posed photos. While these are must-have images for any album, there are all kinds of in-between scenes that add to the story. Consider taking candid photos of people cozied up by the fire or huddled around a board game. Every family event brings together a cast of unique characters and personalities, so remember to include photos of individuals, too. And don’t forget the cute and cuddly pets in your holiday portraits and Christmas pictures!

2. Capture the seasonal mood

It’s often hard to ignore the weather when winter rolls around since we tend to associate the shift in seasons with shorter periods of daylight and changing landscapes. For background shots with a holiday feel, keep an eye out for vibrant city streets as well as natural scenes and wildlife. Take photos during different times of day or night, and try zooming in on festive lights or glowing candles. A little blur is ok sometimes, and it can help create a dreamy, nostalgic, or peaceful mood. These kind of holiday pictures are great for adding variety and style to your family photo album, or for enlarging and printing as wall décor.

3. Mix in moments of food and celebration

Food is such a central part of holiday celebrations, so take the time to photograph all those traditional dishes and tantalizing treats you look forward to all year. Pictures of a colorful table setting, steaming mugs of cocoa, or decadent desserts go a long way to evoke the senses. Some people may even want to be photographed with their favorite dish. And of course, raise a glass (and a camera!) when family members gather around the table and start making toasts before the holiday feast.

4. Plan ahead for family portraits

It’s always nice to organize at least one group holiday photo of the whole family. Choose a cozy setting where everyone will be able to comfortably gather and decide whether you want to add holiday props or decorations to brighten up the scene. Plan ahead and do a few test shots to ensure you have the best lighting, position, and camera settings ready. You’ll want to set up a tripod and practice using the timer on your camera. Later, you can turn the photo you love most into a large canvas print—the warm textured finish is perfect for portraits and keepsakes.

5. Follow the action

The more people there are in one place, the faster things happen. Be ready to take spontaneous Christmas pictures of everyone (especially kids!) on the move—picking out a Christmas tree or unwrapping gifts one minute, and enjoying snowy outdoor adventures the next. Try setting your camera to burst mode or taking short videos if you want to record more of the action, start to finish. You might be surprised how many of these candid moments end up as top picks for your custom wall art projects.

6. Document kitchen memories

If the cooks and bakers in your family don’t mind, go behind the scenes in the kitchen to capture turkey basting, cookie making, or special recipes in action. You can approach these holiday photos as playful candid shots (complete with messy hands and spills and happy grins), or you can be more meticulous about your food photography if you have plans to create a holiday cookbook or recipe journal (showing specific ingredients and methods). Either way, you’re bound to end up with memorable pictures.

7. Don’t forget the details

We tend to gravitate toward the big reveal or grand finale when taking holiday pictures, but no festive story is complete without the little moments. Experiment photographing people, rooms, and objects from different angles and perspectives, by getting down low or moving in for a close-up. When flipping through a photo album, it can also be fun to encounter shots of people partway out of the frame, in silhouette or profile, or simply feeling playful—showing off happy feet in cozy socks, maybe? Keep it interesting by mixing up the compositions and the subject matter.

8. Take it on the road

There is nothing quite like a holiday road trip! Instead of keeping the lens cap on until you reach your destination, take your camera out during the journey so you can snap pictures of the changing scenery. Stopping for treats along the way? Snap a quick pic. From backseat selfies to roadside attractions, give yourself time to soak up the excitement of going places. Getting outside your everyday routine can also invite moments of spontaneity and creativity. Have fun capturing your holiday story one moment at a time!

Do you have a collection of holiday pictures or favorite images just waiting to become a keepsake? Design your own photo book today, then print and share your special collection with friends and family.

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