Creative Christmas Photography: Episode 1

Ever wondered why your Christmas photographs lack a little pizzazz or atmosphere? 

Want to do it better? 

I’ve got some tips to help you, but firstly here’s some very important advice. 

If you are going away for Christmas then ensure that you’ve packed your digital camera.  Sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget.  Make sure your digital camera battery is fully charged – and take your spare battery and the charger.  Delete or transfer all of the files from your memory cards, and take spare cards – they’re really cheap these days.   You don’t want to miss the best shot because your card is full! 

Here’s the first tip… 

Photography Tip #1.  Get in close and fill the frame 

It’s very tempting to try and get everything about Christmas in just one photograph.  The classic image is the whole family round the Christmas lunch table, or round the tree.  By all means take that image, (in fact take three or four to avoid “blinks”), but also try and get lots of those magic little details that make up the whole; single tree decorations, the pile of presents, a nativity scene, mistletoe, sweets/chocolates, Christmas candles, holly berries, the wreath on the door, crackers, tinsel, the remains of the turkey, the flame on the Christmas pudding, in fact anything that says “Christmas”.  For the really small things you may need to set your camera to close-up or macro mode.  

"Christmas tree decoration" by Gale Photography

"Christmas tree decoration" by Gale Photography

Make sure when you are getting these details that you fill the frame with what you want to record.  Look at the subject, decide what the most important thing to record is, and record just that.  These simple compositions can work really well, and having unrelated objects in images can make them less successful. 

"Christmas wreath" by Gale Photography

"Christmas wreath" by Gale Photography

When you put your Christmas photographs together on a page, or show them on your digital media, they’ll tell a great story about your Christmas. 

Photography Tip #2. Christmas Tree Lights 

Photographing Christmas tree lights at home is something that can be tricky to do. The secret is to balance the lighting in the room and the tree lights.  You don’t need to use flash, so switch it off; the lights are already illuminated!  Put the camera on a tripod or table, and use the self-timer (to reduce vibration) and a long exposure so that you get some light from the room lights well as properly recording the tree lights.   Then try turning the room lights off and photographing the lights by themselves, and seeing how different it looks.  You may need to experiment with the White Balance setting (check your camera’s manual to see how to change this) to give the right colours. 

"Christmas tree lights" by Gale Photography

"Christmas tree lights" by Gale Photography

 Lights also make great images if they are very out of focus.  Try focussing on a close object so the lights go out of focus, and then reframe to make the lights your subject.  

"Christmas Tree lights bokeh" by Gale Photography

"Christmas Tree lights bokeh" by Gale Photography

Tip within a tip:  If you want to photograph displays of Christmas lights on the outside of a house, then your car makes a great “tripod”.  It’s great for getting sharper images without camera shake.  Turn off the engine, to reduce vibrations, and rest the camera on the car’s roof.  Again, you don’t need the camera’s flash turned on. The best time to photograph lights outside is at twilight after the sun has set, so there will still be a bit of light in the sky. 

So, there’s the first couple of tips for better Christmas photography.  Check again next week (or subscribe to our blog feed) for the next set of tips… 

…and have a great Christmas!!!

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