Taking a picture for Christmas: 6 tips for Christmas photography

Taking a picture for Christmas: 6 tips for Christmas photography

Taking Christmas photos is as much a part of the celebration as gifts under the Christmas tree – after all, the whole family usually gets together on the holidays. In order to skilfully stage this event photographically, there are a few things to consider. We've put together six tips for Christmas photography.

In earlier times, the picture just had to be in place at Christmas. After all, digital cameras didn't exist and every release cost money. You didn't have endless attempts, because then the roll of film was full in no time at all. With today's digital and smartphone cameras, you no longer have this problem. As a rule, you can already see on the screen whether your Christmas photo turned out well or not. Nevertheless, you can use a few settings to get a little closer to the perfect photo.

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1. Take test shots and turn off the flash


The best way to take atmospheric Christmas photos is without a flash. Image: © 2017

First of all, it is advisable to take some test shots. So you have already got used to the environment and the lighting conditions and are not completely unprepared when the family arrives for Christmas. At this point, feel free to test several perspectives and settings of your camera. On the other hand, what you should avoid if possible is the use of a flashlight . The Christmas spirit with all the candles, lights and other elements would not come out so well with a flash. This special atmosphere is captured much better without the flash, and you also avoid the red-eye effect.

2. Use a tripod and indirect lights

HDR-Ratgeber Stativ

By doing without the flash, the required exposure time becomes longer. Means: You need a very steady hand for a successful recording – or a tripod to avoid camera shake.There are tripods for smartphones as well as for SLR cameras in all imaginable price ranges. Even the cheapest models are always better than doing without a tripod. Indirect lights also help if the photos are too dark. A floor lamp that is positioned a little away from the action already helps to better illuminate the scenery.

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3. Take a group photo at Christmas

What would Christmas be without the obligatory group photo in which all family members are lined up? But with such an arrangement, you should keep a few things in mind to get beautiful Christmas photos.

First of all, the following also applies here: the use of a tripod is definitely recommended, otherwise you have to prove that you have a fairly steady hand. Also, avoid positioning the group directly in front of the brightly lit Christmas tree. It is better to plan a little distance from the tree. If you want to be in the picture yourself, you need to take a picture with a time-delayed self-timer.

4. Arrange people within the group


The little ones in front, the big ones in the back – that applies to both small and large groups. Image: © Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko 2022

It is no less important to position the individual persons within the group correctly and sensibly. If a particularly large number of people are to be in the picture, a staggering of several rows should be considered. A little trial and error always helps here. The following usually applies: tall people at the back and an arrangement in which the people get taller on the inside. In the event of imminent space problems, it is also recommended that the photographed person turn slightly to the center and thus move closer together. This not only brings a little more dynamics to the overall composition, but above all compresses the group a little.

When it comes to group shots at Christmas, don't be timid with the camera shutter button – after all, storage space is affordable. With many people in particular, you always run the risk of just a few shots that someone has their eyes closed or is looking unfavorably into the lens. In this case it is better to snap as many photos as possible, you can always sort them out later. However, this process is usually faster than having to extensively edit the photo later, because you only see on the big screen that the photo was not so perfect after all.

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5. Increase ISO value in low light conditions

Canon EOS 6D Mark II

A higher ISO value is recommended in low light conditions. Image: © 2017

In low light situations, it is advisable to increase the ISO value in the manual settings. Values of 100 or 200 are suitable for daylight shots. When taking a Christmas photo, you should rather choose a higher value, here it often helps to try it out. But note: the higher the ISO value, the greater the image noise. This option should therefore be used sparingly. If you have not yet gained much experience in this regard, the automatic setting is often sufficient.

As with outdoors, the principle applies to Christmas photography: never photograph against the light. This darkens the actual subjects in the foreground. Disturbing backlights should be removed before taking the picture. If this is not possible, you should definitely try to change your position to get a better result.

6. Take Christmas photos: Shoot in HDR mode

Have you heard of HDR photography ? This not only ensures impressive results for outdoor shots, but can also be very useful for photos at Christmas. Finally, thanks to HDR, several shots are taken with different exposure levels and automatically assembled by the system.

In the meantime, many cameras and also smartphone snaps have integrated a corresponding HDR mode, which can sometimes also be retrofitted via an app. An HDR photo is often just a push of a button away. Just take two shots, one with and one without HDR, to see the difference.


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