Holidays are special because of the memories with family that they create…memories that you’ll treasure in your heart forever. Here are some tips on taking Christmas photos that you’ll treasure in years to come.
Choosing the right moment
Shoot moments that pull at your heart strings; ones you just want to bottle up and keep forever. Posed photos are nice, but in 20 years, you’ll want the real moments. (Go ahead and take those posed photos though!) There is just something special and magical about a Christmas tree decorated with twinkle lights. Even the oldest of kids can be caught admiring it.
Here are some suggestions:
* Capture firsts – Is it a little one’s first time seeing/decorating the tree?
* Capture family traditions – Is there a special ornament that gets hung up every year? Do you read a special book?
* Capture details – Little hands, little feet, chubby cheeks, the look of wonder on a child’s face…
* Capture tender moments – Siblings helping each other decorate, hugging, being excited to hang up a certain ornament
Now that you have an idea of what you want to capture, let’s talk about how to capture it. I shoot with a Canon Rebel T5. Three out of the 4 photos pictured were shot with a Canon 24mm 2.8 lens. The other one was shot with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. Whenever I want to capture little details, I use this lens. As far as DSLRs and lenses go, my equipment isn’t top of the line. But, the best camera is the one you have!
Setting the scene –
If you are photographing your photos in a bright room, the light of the room will overpower the lights from your tree. Try shooting when your room has very little ambient light (ie. light from windows, lamps, etc.) . You really want those lights on the tree to shine! Make sure you don’t use your flash!
Here are my settings for the next 2 photos –
Lens: Canon 24mm 2.8
ISO: 800 (A high ISO makes your camera more sensitive to the available light.)
shutter speed: 1/80 second (This allows more light into the photo. Because this is a relatively slow speed, there is the the risk of some motion blur. If you can, I recommend using a tripod to help minimize camera shake.)
aperture: f/2.8 (This also allows the most light possible into my picture, and gives me a very shallow depth of field –which means the focus is on whatever is in the front of the photo. The background will be blurry.)
The key to the beautiful, glowy, bokeh is a wide aperture.
For these pictures, I shot with the widest aperture my lens would allow. If you shoot in “aperture priority” mode, then the shutter speed will adjust itself. If you are shooting in manual, you’ll need to set the shutter speed yourself. With the help of my light meter in my camera, I set my shutter to be on the lower side. (1/80).
I typically don’t shoot this slow because you can get a lot of motion blur. I recommend using a tripod to help stabilize your camera. My camera doesn’t handle low light very well. An ISO of 1600 tends to show some grain. So, I try to not go above 800. If you can raise your aperture higher, then you will be able to raise your shutter speed faster.
In this next photo, I used a higher ISO because I needed some more light. My daughter has loved The Nutcracker for as long as I can remember. We take a photo like this every year.
Lens: Canon 24mm 2.8
shutter speed: 1/80 second
Because, I needed more light and didn’t want to reduce my shutter speed, (I knew I couldn’t stand that still!) I increased my ISO.
This last photo was taken with my 50mm 1.8 lens.
Lens: Canon 50mm 1.8
shutter speed: 1/200 second
As you can see, my aperture was able to go lower with this lens. Because of that, I was able to raise my shutter speed.
Feel free to experiment past these settings! They are just a loose guide to help you capture some warm, glowy Christmas photos. If you find that your photos are coming out too dark, try raising your ISO to the next level up. If that makes them too bright, then try increasing the shutter speed some. Practice makes perfect!
Hello! My name is Christina and I am a photographer in Northwest Indiana. I live with my husband, son, and 3 daughters. I started taking photos as a hobby when I was in college. Once I had kids of my own, I decided to start learning how to use the manual settings on my DSLR camera. I wanted to capture the lives of my children so they could look back and see themselves through my eyes. Friends and family then started asking me to take their photos. Before I knew it, I was getting photography requests from their friends and family! This is how my business was born. My favorite style of photography is documentary/lifestyle. Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. I love capturing them!