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20 Christmas Photography Tips for the Most Memorable Moments

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 11 min read
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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 20 Christmas photo shoot ideas that will make December memorable for you and your loved ones.

1. Christmas Photography: Taking Posed and Candid Family Photos

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.
Try experimenting with the manual mode of your camera. It’s a great opportunity to learn new things and get used to the effects a camera adjustment can make.

Christmas portrait of four kids jumping
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.

2. Take Documentary Images of Christmas Traditions

Try documentary photography for capturing Christmas traditions. Add this to your family photo ideas.
Every family has some habits for Christmas. You don’t have to think about huge things here.
Capture families as they choose their Christmas tree, or decorate their homes with Christmas lights. Baking gingerbreads or ornamenting the tree can also be a holiday tradition.
This is going to help you to show a private and intimate part of Christmas through your family photography.
These family photos can even make nice Christmas cards.
Christmas portrait of two little girls playing with christmas trees

3. Photograph Babies in a Simple DIY Studio

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.
Also, use a wide aperture (a small f-number) as it creates a shallow depth of field. This strengthens the bokeh and adds to the atmosphere of your images.

Christmas portrait of a little baby in a santa hat
You can keep children entertained by giving them toys, letting them play with other family members, or showing them your camera.

4. 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 as 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.
Self-portraits can serve documentary or artistic purposes. You can document yourself as you are in that exact moment of Christmas.
But you can experiment with expressing yourself in different ways. You can use Christmas lights to give the festive atmosphere to your self-portraiture. Try creating more abstract scenes too.
Christmas portrait of a woman in a Santa hat

5. Capture Cosy Christmas Atmospheres Indoors

Portrait photography isn’t the only genre you have to embrace during the holidays. You can take snapshots. Zoom out and take photos of various rooms, stockings, meals, and wrapped gifts.
You can also photograph different times of the 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.
Try experimenting with more genres. You can try out still life, macro, candid, interior, family or even fine art images. It’s a great challenge to capture the holiday from different aspects.
Festive portrait of a woman decorating a Christmas tree

6. Go Out and Find the Christmas Spirit in Your Neighbourhood

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.
People like to decorate their homes and gardens for the holidays. The everyday sights of a city or village changes during this time. If you have snow, that’s even better!
Play with the Christmas lights and use your painting-like images as a Christmas card for your family.

A festive winter street scene
Atmospheres are easier to photograph with a wide-angle lens. If you have one, make the most of it when you go outside.

7. Offer Christmas-Themed Photo Shoots to Your Clients

Christmas might also be the perfect time to photograph old and new clients. Ask your friends, neighbors or family members 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. You can offer a Christmas photo package.
If you make vouchers, it can be a Christmas present too. People love to give creative gifts, and this could be one. Sell these, and clients who get them as a present can arrange the appointment with you.

Christmas photo of a couple posing on a sofa by the Christmas tree
Thanks to all the colorful Christmas decorations, it’s easy to have beautiful indoor photo shoots.

8. Start a Christmas-Themed Photo Essay 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.
These images are going to build up a nice photo-essay.
Christmas photo of Santa on a street

9. Take Photos of Bokeh

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. They even make nice minimalistic Christmas cards.

Bokeh lights
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.

10. Document Your Family’s Expressions When They Open Christmas Presents

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.
Set up a camera with a remote so you can enjoy your family time without feeling an outsider.

Christmas photo of a woman wrapping gifts on a sofa by the Christmas tree
Don’t forget to photograph yourself or others wrapping gifts, too. You can use these photos to create gorgeous before & afters.

11. Create a Diptych out of Simple Christmas Photos

If you think simple photos of Christmas objects are boring, use them in a way that satisfies your creative side.
With diptychscollages consisting of two photos – you can think of juxtaposition, complementary colors, 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.
Diptych festive photo of a christmas tree and close up of decorations

12. 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.
Silhouettes of children in front of the Christmas tree

13. 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.
Cool christmas double exposure of a man and christmas tree

14. 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.
Atmospheric Christmas photography of a decorated tree

15. Take Adorable Pet Portraits With a Christmas Twist

Pet photography is a 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.

Christmas pet photography of a dog in a santa suit
Backdrops don’t need to be made of fabric or anything fancy. They can just be a neatly organised pile of colorful gifts.

16. 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.
Flat lay of a tray of cookies surrounded by Christmas decorations

17. Take Funny Photos with Costumes

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. Have fun and take hilarious pictures at the same time.
Humorous Christmas portrait of two friends in costume offering free hugs

18. Don’t Forget to Shoot Outdoors and 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 outdoor photos like the one below.
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!
Of course, if you live somewhere cold and snowy, it’s still a good idea to take outdoor Christmas photoshoots!
A little boy in a santa hat outdoors

19. 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.
The feet of someone wearing christmas socks

20. Make a Holiday-Themed Flat Lay

Flat lays are photos of various objects (carefully organized 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 beautiful festive flat lays to advertise Christmas-themed events, create custom Christmas cards, or anything else your heart desires!
A christmas wreath flat lay


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.
If photography is your job, you can apply most of these Christmas photo ideas when working with your clients too.