The holidays are almost here! It’s time to improve your Christmas photography skills.
The winter holidays are one of the most creative times of the year. It doesn’t matter if you’re a budding landscape photographer or an experienced portrait artist.
As long as you have an interest in photography, you’ll find something inspiring to document.
Here are a few Christmas photo shoot ideas that will make December memorable for you and your loved ones.
1. Take Posed and Candid Photos of Your Entire Family
Even though these children aren’t posing perfectly for the camera, this photo is full of joy and curiosity. Don’t be afraid of taking imperfect photos of your family members. What matters the most are real emotions.
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a portrait photographer or not. Take photos of your loved ones. Family Christmas photos aren’t as stressful to make as professional ones.
You don’t have to worry about awkwardness or time constraints.
When everyone is too busy to pose, take candid photos. This way, you’ll get to document a lot of heartwarming moments. You’ll also get better at quickly adjusting to different lighting and movements.
2. Photograph Babies in a Simple DIY Studio
You can keep children entertained by giving them toys, letting them play with other family members, or showing them your camera.
You don’t need to have a professional studio to take great photos of babies and children. Have a child sit in front of a Christmas tree or a string of Christmas lights.
Then you can focus on creating atmosphere light. Use a lamp, another set of string lights, or natural window light.
The background lights will create beautiful Christmas bokeh. If you want the bokeh to stand out even more, make sure there’s no extra backlight in the background.
3. Take Festive Self-Portraits
You’re photographing the world around you. It’s only fair to take a few photos of yourself to celebrate the holidays.
Self-portraiture is an amazing way to de-stress and find inspiration in simplicity. You don’t need to dress up like Santa or freeze outdoors to take an interesting picture.
You can wear your favourite sweater and pose next to your Christmas tree or a family member.
4. Capture Cosy Atmospheres Indoors
Portrait photography isn’t the only genre you have to embrace during the holidays. You can zoom out and take photos of various rooms, stockings, meals, and wrapped gifts.
You can also photograph different times of day. What does the living room look like before everyone has unwrapped the gifts? What’s the atmosphere like when everyone has come together to watch a Christmas film at the end of the day?
These details, which might not matter so much now, will bring a smile to your face in the future. All you have to do is preserve them through your pictures.
5. Go Out and Celebrate the Beauty of Your Neighbourhood
Atmospheres are easier to photograph with a wide-angle lens. If you have one, make the most of it when you go outside.
Aspiring landscape photographers, this one’s for you!
Whether it’s scorching hot or freezing outside, take photos of your surroundings. Find beautiful decorations, lights, and displays that inspire you to keep taking photos.
6. Photograph Your Neighbours Too (If They’re Willing)
Thanks to all the colourful Christmas decorations, it’s easy to have beautiful indoor photo shoots.
Christmas might also be the perfect time to photograph neighbours and new clients. Ask your neighbours if they’re open to being photographed. If they are, why not have a mini photo session to improve your skills?
If you’re open to working during the holidays, you could even earn some extra money by doing what you love.
7. Start a Christmas-Themed 50 Strangers Project
Humans of New York (HONY) is a project that aims to photograph all kinds of strangers and document their stories. It was created by Brandon Stanton. Thanks to him, photographers from all over the world have considered starting their own strangers projects.
Do you want to get out of your comfort zone and get to know new people? You can start a similar project with a Christmas twist!
Make sure you know how to approach a stranger to avoid ending up in a dangerous situation.
8. Take Photos of Bokeh
Bokeh can be found almost anywhere, but it’s particularly easy to find in December. Christmas trees, string lights, and outdoor decorations can all be used to create it.
Bokeh is the collection of round lights you see in backgrounds. With the right aperture, you can recreate this look and use it in other projects.
Photos of bokeh are perfect for enhancing simple photos. If you’re business savvy, you can even sell them to stock photo websites.
There’s no limit to what you can do with these handy resources.
9. Document Your Family’s Expressions When They Open Presents
Don’t forget to photograph yourself or others wrapping gifts, too. You can use these photos to create gorgeous before & afters.
There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as witnessing joyful reactions. Children are particularly great at being candid and honest in front of the camera.
Make sure you take lots of photos of them during your family gathering.
Don’t worry too much about capturing a specific type of expression. The more you focus on authenticity, the more interesting your photos will look.
10. Create a Diptych out of Simple Christmas Photos
Keep perspectives in mind when you take diptych-inspired photos. Diptychs made of vertical photos tend to look more visually appealing.
If you think simple photos of Christmas objects are boring, use them in a way that satisfies your creative side.
With diptychs – collages consisting of two photos – you can think of juxtaposition, complementary colours, and angles as you take your photos.
Thanks to the extra space, taking photos of simple things will become more of a challenge than an uninteresting task.
11. Create Atmospheric Silhouettes Using Your Christmas Tree
Christmas trees tend to be very bright. This makes them the perfect light source for silhouettes. Photograph your family as they play, unwrap presents, and bond around the Christmas tree.
The less light there is in the room, the better! The resulting silhouettes will look atmospheric and heartwarming.
12. Or Use Those Silhouettes to Create Unique Double Exposures
To create a Christmas-themed double exposure like the one above, you need three things:
- Photoshop or a similar editing program
- A photo of a silhouette
- At least one photo of something related to the holidays, like string lights
To create a silhouette, photograph your model in front of a bright light source, like a lamp. Try to avoid any other surrounding lights.
The darker the room, the brighter your single light source will be. And the sharper your outline will look.
13. Take Classic Christmas Photos
What do you associate with Christmas? Tree decorations, lights, snow, or something completely different? Use these answers as inspiration for a classic Christmas photo shoot.
If you want to challenge yourself further, take pictures of things that have been photographed thousands of times by other people.
For example, find exciting ways to photograph the beauty of a Christmas bauble. Try to do it without making it look boring.
This exercise will refresh your creative instincts and help you find ideas everywhere.
14. Take Adorable Pet Portraits With a Christmas Twist
Backdrops don’t need to be made of fabric or anything fancy. They can just be a neatly organised pile of colourful gifts.
Pet photography is an genre that will teach you patience and make you swoon.
Thanks to all the Christmas gifts and decorations, you don’t even need to build a studio for your photo session.
All you need is a backdrop, a few props, good lighting, and a happy pet.
15. Improve Your Food Photography Skills by Photographing Delicious Treats
To make your Christmas even more memorable, take photos of your food. You can even photograph the cooking process.
Taking the time to appreciate your family’s hard work will show them how much you care. It will also remind your future self of past traditions.
Food photography is perfect for those who want to improve their composition-making skills. If you want to take it a step further, photograph your favourite treats professionally.
This means working with controlled light and placing objects around your plate.
16. Take Funny Photos with Masks
Olaf costumes + Santa masks = amazing family pictures!
Not all of your photos have to be emotional or atmospheric. Some of them can be simply humorous. The best way to achieve this is to use Christmas-themed masks and costumes.
Encourage your family members to dress up and pose for you. Once they start showing their silly sides, you’ll get lots of opportunities to have fun and take hilarious pictures at the same time.
17. Don’t Forget to Include the Sun in Your Photos
Do you live in a country where Christmases are filled with sunshine and heat? Go out there and take warm photos like the one above.
You can even make your photos more Christmassy. All you have to do is include at least one holiday-themed element in them.
This could be a Santa hat, lots of string lights, or an elf costume. Easy!
18. Show off Your Family’s Cute Christmas Attire
It’s not every day that you can wear fuzzy Christmas slipper or Santa onesies.
Make the most of this time by documenting your family’s fashion tastes, no matter how silly they may be.
19. Make a Holiday-Themed Flat Lay
Flat lays are also used as phone or desktop wallpapers.
Flat lays are photos of various objects (carefully organised on a table) that are taken from a bird’s eye view. There’s usually a lot of space in these photos to leave room for text.
Flat lays are used to advertise products, create greeting cards, or anything else that involves words.
You can create flat lays to advertise Christmas-themed events, create custom Christmas cards, or anything else your heart desires!
There are many more Christmas ideas you can put in practice this holiday season. You could try some snowflake photography, or some creative levitating photography with Christmas cookies.
Whatever catches your eye, go out there and create memorable moments for you and your family.
You and your loved ones will have many photos to cherish for many, many years to come.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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