8 Quick And Easy Tips For Better Holiday Photos

The holiday season has got to be one of the best photo-ops of the year. Not only is everything beautifully decorated, but people are filled right to the brim with cheer, and a happy person is a photogenic person!

Now, it can be pretty overwhelming to try to capture all that festivity, and without the right mindset, the results can leave you less than jolly.

So here are some tips to help you take better holiday photos, AND enjoy the experience!

1. Shoot Lots

Our memories are weak. And yet, in the moment, it feels like we’ll remember forever. So the camera doesn’t get picked up, the moment doesn’t get captured, and the memory slowly fades away.

The holidays are full of amazing moments, so remember to shoot lots. I don’t think I’ve ever looked back at photos of a great time with loved ones, or a fantastic trip, and wished I hadn’t taken so many photos. I always wish I had taken more.

2. Keep A Camera Nearby

This will help you with tip number one! Keep a camera around you when you’re just hanging out. If it’s right at hand, you’re more likely to pick it up and shoot. If it’s in another room, or packed up in your camera bag, you might think “Aw, it’s not worth the effort”. Make sure it has a fresh battery and a card with lots of space.

3. Look For Themes

When you’re approaching a multi-faceted situation, like the holidays, it can be helpful to focus on different themes. This lets you dig deep into what you’re shooting, and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few ideas of themes (and sub themes) to shoot:

  • Food: cookies, dinner, preparation, enjoyment
  • Decorations: decorating, lights, trees
  • Gifts: wrapping, exchanging, enjoying
  • Relationships: reunions, generations

4. Play With Light

The holidays are filled with light — it’s a photographer’s dream! So play with it! Practice with your flash indoors. Then turn it off, and use the glow from Christmas lights to add ambience to your photos. Shoot at night. Shoot during the day. If you live somewhere with snow, shoot outdoors, and see how it acts as one hugely awesome reflector. See how many different lighting situations you can find! It’s like an awesome photography game!

5. Get Variety

Many photojournalistic photographers tend to look down on static, posed images. The “grip and grin” photo might seem boring, but it captures a relationship. And those photos will mean a lot years down the road. So take the time to get those shots! And definitely don’t neglect all the fantastic candid moments. The variety of these two types of images will help tell more of the story. Add in some shots of the scene and the details, and you’ve just done an awesome job of capturing the holidays!

6. Give Others A Turn

Don’t hog the camera! It’s super fun to let others take a turn with your camera, both in watching how they change their demeanour when they become the “official photographer”, and then getting to look through their images afterwards. Get all the settings right for them, give them a super-quick tutorial, and let them go.

And get the kids involved too! Depending on their age (and the value of your camera) you might want to stay with them as they head off in search of something to shoot. But it’s totally worth it. Kids have a unique way of seeing things, and they’ll be thrilled to get to use a fancy camera! Plus they have a knack for getting great expressions out of people.

7. Share

Make sure that those fantastic images that you put so much time and effort into creating don’t just sit on a hard drive afterwards, never to be seen again! Take the time to put together an online gallery (Lightroom is great for this) and send it to friends and family so they can enjoy the photos too. In our experience, the sooner you do this, the more likely you are to accomplish it. Leave it for a while, and it quickly gets pushed to the back of the to-do list as you return to normal life. But photos are meant to be shared, so get them out there! Bonus points if you make an album with them (Blurb is a great option for quick albums – check out our review here).

8. Find The Balance

This is a tricky one. As a photographer, you need to find that balance between enjoying an event and photographing it. You don’t want to get stressed trying to capture every single moment in photos, and wind up missing out on simply enjoying the experience. But you also don’t want to get lazy, and later regret not picking up your camera.

I don’t have a quick-fix answer for how to find the balance, but I think keeping it in your mind is the first step. Each person will have a different level of photography that they will feel comfortable with in their own lives. Maybe you like to get photos all the details, and that’s how you enjoy experiences. Or maybe just a couple shots is all you need. Figure out your balance, and then enjoy photographing your holidays!

Your Turn!

What do you like to shoot during the holidays? What are some other themes that we missed? Share in the comments below!


Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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9 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Where can i buy this print? And those onesies?

    I have a hard time melding the ‘photographer’ mind set with the family/hanging out mind set. It’s usually one or the other. I think it’s helpful to pick one event/day or as you mention in #3, one theme, and pull out the photographer mindset for that.

  2. adorable!

  3. I hadn’t thought much about shooting more around the holidays until this year. I have loved capturing the gifts that I have made and other festive events. It is true that expressions are more genuine and excited–I have noticed that with my children. My 2 month old baby had her first laugh this week while laying next to the Christmas tree looking up at the twinkling lights. Luckily, I ran and took my camera out of the bag to capture this precious moment. Don’t let those moments slip by!!

  4. Love these tips, Lauren! Thanks for sharing them!!

  5. Thank you for the tips! :) I will try to shake off my fears and follow the tips these holidays :)

  6. Love your website, and the article is very helpful! Taking fantastic holiday photos is always a challenge. :)

    • Lauren Lim says:

      Thanks, Neil! So glad you’re finding it helpful! It’s a challenge for sure, but well worth the effort :)

  7. Can I just say that I love the matching onesies and your sense of humor? That’s one of the main reasons I keep coming back to this site! Thanks for all the help and support, by the way. :)

    I *am* proud of myself for dragging the family (husband, dog and I) to take photos one morning after our first big snow. The snow was perfect, fluffy and untouched. These can be our family pictures for next year! And there’s a hint of humor with my ostentatious Christmas sweater and my dog’s butt (she isn’t good at posing for the camera).

  8. I have a fondness for families that put up the same wooden snowman every year or the same rickety manger. The consistency of these old decorations are peaceful and soothing to me. So I take pictures of my neighbors yards and give them to them.

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