Family Christmas Photography 101

November 22, 2021 4 min read

This afternoon, after I heard our local mail truck zip down the road and Juniper went crazy watching through the window, I sauntered out to the mailbox to see if there was anything other than bills waiting for me. Yes, adulting really stinks sometimes, but today was different.

Today, I received the first of what will be very many holiday cards that have a special place in a Christmas arch that hangs around our entryway. Every now and again throughout the month of December, I linger under the arch with my hundredth cup of daily coffee in my snowman mug (don’t judge, it’s not just for kids!) and leaf through the messages and photos. And I’m instantly filled to the brim with holiday joy. 

Whenever this time of year rolls around, I’m a total traditionalist with holiday photos. There is nothing like that moment when I pull a new holiday card out of the mailbox and get to see the beautiful smiling faces of our family and friends from near and far. 

These photos tell the story of our lives. Our holiday memories. Mishaps in the kitchen. Light displays gone wrong. Milestones being celebrated. Getting caught under the mistletoe with the wrong person. Kids giggling as they open up gifts they have been wishing for. WatchingThe Polar Express with hot chocolate filled mugs. Baby’s first Christmas ornaments being hung on the tree. And counting down the days until Santa makes his arrival. Family Christmas photography is everything. 

So. Much. Magic. 

We want to be a huge part of making all of your holiday photos not only extra special this year, but we want you to feel the emotions through each extraordinary capture. 

Family Christmas Photography 101

So today, I’m going to break it all down for you. Step by step. I’m sharing everything that will help you capture the best moments on camera this entire holiday season. 

Lighting is everything. 

This is not the first time that you have heard me talk about the importance of lighting in photos and for more in-depth tips on this topic,check out my mom photography tips post. For holiday photography, take this opportunity to play with the lighting a bit and see what captures the mood best. And the glistening holiday lights everywhere? They turn out really beautiful in photos, too. 

When in doubt: turn off those overhead lights indoors and take advantage of the brightening settings on your camera so that your lights look less orange. 

Don’t be afraid to be creative.

Time to toot our own horn! If you haven’t seen ourNaughty and Nice holiday signs on social media then you are missing out. We all have our days (hopefully more 'nice,' than 'naughty'), but with these holiday photo props, baby gets to decide. Part mischievous, part sweet, the Naughty or Nice Holiday Card set is sure to bring a smile and will surely take your family Christmas photography up a notch. 

Make sure you frame your shot. 

While this might be more of a technical photographer's term, keep it mind while you're snapping away - especially when indoors. Framing the shot literally means that you are drawing attention to whomever or whatever you are taking the photo of. To accomplish this, look through your lens and make sure that you are blocking out unwanted part of the photo using other objects in your scene. Remember, these photos tell your story and framing the photo will show how you want your story to be told. 

Candid photos capture the biggest moments.

Remember those cheesy holiday photos that were done in a portrait studio, with all of your siblings in matching outfits? (It's not just me, right?!) The pictures you take when your special people aren't posing can be the ones that end up being the most magical.

Shoot outside.

So many fun holiday events happen outside and not to be a broken Christmas record, but the lighting will always be best outdoors where the light is natural. Grab your camera and start snapping away. The best family Christmas photography opportunities are waiting for you!

Add props!

We love making milestone celebrations so much that we have an entire set of blocks dedicated to counting down the days until Christmas. Use this set as a guide for daily photo memories to capture what you did all December long!

Don’t forget to get in the photos, too, mom. 

Ahem: don’t be that mom who is left looking back on the holidays wondering where she was the whole time. Hand the camera over to dad, grandma, grandpa, or any stranger that you can beg to take a photo with you in it. It doesn’t matter if you have makeup on or a pound of dry shampoo in your hair: get in those photos!

Action shots make really fun photos. 

Action shots are a really fun thing to capture on film! Try using your camera’s burst mode to ensure you have pictures that aren’t blurry.

If you’re aiming for the “perfect” Instagram pic…

There is nothing better than capturing the moments as they are happening and every tip below aims for that. However, kids also want to experience what is happening without having to stop and smile for pictures. They are beyond excited and just want to open up that new toy or play in the freshly fallen snow. 

If you are trying to get the “perfect insta shot” I recommend taking them ahead of time. I know. I said it. However, this helps take some of the pressure off both you and the kids. Sometimes you just need to stage things ahead of time when there are less exciting things going on.

And the last, possibly most important thing to remember when capturing holiday photos: you don’t need to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a professional camera. Technology is just as magical as the holiday season and I promise you can capture great memories on your camera phone! Happy photo-taking!

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