Practising indoor photography will help you understand your camera better. It’ll also help you capture special moments with your loved ones in cherished spaces.
But, indoor Christmas photography tends to intimidate. Not everyone feels comfortable with a lack of space or lighting challenges. But, don’t let these obstacles stop you from creating amazing images this holiday season!
Our list of indoor Christmas photography ideas will improve your skills and create lasting memories. You’ll learn how to take indoor portraits, use props, and experiment with different camera settings. You may find yourself pushing your creativity and enjoying some wonderful family time.
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What to Photograph Indoors This Christmas Season
To start, take a look around your home. What rooms feel the cosiest, and where are your holiday decorations? What subjects or props can you use? Take inventory and start to gather your supplies.
Feel free to use your own inspirations. In the meantime, follow our indoor Christmas photography ideas below to help get you started.
1. Use Christmas Decorations as Your Subjects
Decorations are a brilliant way to capture a unique Christmas mood.
You don’t need a fancy lens to take sharp photos of toys, tree decorations, and other details. You can use a prime lens, such as the 50mm f/1.8. It’s both affordable and works well in low-light conditions. If you want to capture more detail, use a macro lens.
Using an aperture from f/1.2 to f/2.5 will create a beautiful background blur and bokeh effect.
The ornaments and branches on your Christmas tree could result in poor focusing. For this reason, I don’t recommend using autofocus when taking closeups. Instead, use a manual focus on your desired subject for the best results.
Focusing in Live View mode or focus peaking can help if it’s too dark in the viewfinder to find your subject.
2. Shoot Candid and Posed Christmas Portraits
Pay careful attention to your white balance when you take photos of people. Too much warmth or coldness will result in unflattering pictures. It can even create an orange effect on the skin.
When you take candid photos, shoot in burst mode and with a fast shutter speed. This will help you take a lot of pictures at one time.
Keep your relatives comfortable in front of the camera by shooting from the hip using live view. Or, try using a silent shutter. Shooting from the hip will take the spotlight away from your camera. And using a silent shutter will remove loud distractions.
3. Take Holiday Self-Portraits
Take self-portraits during the holidays. You’ll end up documenting your growth as an artist! As the years go by, be creative with the same Christmas-themed props and use your imagination. You may even find inspiration in seemingly boring objects.
No matter what kind of self-portraits you take, always use a tripod. If you don’t want to go back and forth to check your results, invest in a camera remote. You can press the shutter without moving away from your spot. For this, it’s not necessary to use DSLR — you can also use your smartphone.
A flexible mini tripod is perfect for indoor settings. It doesn’t take up much space, and you don’t have to worry about running pets or children.
Place another light source in front of or next to yourself. This will keep your entire face visible in your portrait.
To avoid fake smiles, have a family member entertain you while you take pictures. It might feel a little awkward at first. But, it will turn into a humorous experience that will leave you with lots of funny outtakes and memories.
Make your self-portraits look cosier by wearing something Christmas-themed. Beanies or sweaters are reliable go-to’s.
And who says you can’t smile in your moody self-portraits, too?
4. Include Your Pets in The Christmas Photos
Pets can be fast and unpredictable. They might have a love/hate relationship with your camera. Or, they might be too excited to care about your presence! These things will make it difficult to take sharp indoor christmas pet photos.
Here are some ways to keep your pets happy and distracted:
- don’t use harsh flashes to avoid scaring your pet;
- hold a treat before you take a photo and reward them once you’re done;
- use sounds or weird noises to grab their attention; and
- if loud camera noises make your pet uncomfortable, shoot in silent mode.
Don’t forget to include Christmas-related props in your pet portraits. These can be Christmas trees, decorations, or fairy lights.
If you’re planning to photograph several pets, use a wide-angle lens. This will capture your home’s entire Christmas environment. Plus, you’ll keep all subjects in the frame.
5. Experiment With Christmas Tree Photography
Unlike the other subjects in this article, Christmas trees are very bright. If you don’t photograph them well, you’ll end up with overexposed photos.
To avoid this, photograph your Christmas tree without others in the room. This will ensure that nobody interrupts your shot in the middle of your session.
Bright trees don’t always look good in bright rooms. Turn down the lights to emphasise all the colours and decorations on your tree. You can also use bracketing to balance out the exposure in different parts of the room.
Pay careful attention to your in-camera exposure. Underexposed photos are much easier to fix than overexposed ones. To fix exposure during post-processing without any quality loss, shoot in RAW.
If you like bokeh, take blurred photos of your Christmas tree. Set your aperture to a low f-number and use a manual focus away from the tree. It’ll create a beautiful triangle of bokeh like this one.
Best Camera Settings For Indoor Photography
You’ll want most of your indoor photos to be sharp and well-lit. Strive for a white balance that’s close to what you see with your eyes.
To achieve this, you need to adjust the following settings on your camera:
This is the most important tool to use in locations with limited light. Unless you’re shooting in a very bright place, your ISO should be higher than when taking outdoor photos.
The more ISO you use, the grainier your photos will look. If you have a camera with a poor low-light capacity, stick to 800 as the largest ISO. If you use a more advanced DSLR or mirrorless camera, you have more wiggle room. You can increase ISO up to 3200 or 5000, depending on your system.
Newer camera models often feature an ISO invariant sensor. With this tool, you don’t have to worry about getting grainy photos. To avoid using high ISO, try a flash or strobe to illuminate your scene.
Indoor lights can be vibrant, warm, cold, or everything in between. It’s important to understand how to adjust all kinds of artificial light.
You can get the effects you want by playing with different white balance presets. In indoor photography, tungsten or fluorescent modes tend to give the best results.
Most cameras will let you adjust your colour temperature as needed, generally between 1000-5000 Kelvin.
Shoot in RAW for the best results when changing the white balance during editing.
Aperture, or f-number, determines how sharp or blurry your photos will look. A small f-number like f/1.2 will separate your subject from its background. You’ll get a brighter photo as a lot of light comes into the camera. A larger f-number like f/6.0 will do the opposite.
If you want your subjects to stand out, or if you want to create a bokeh effect, use small f-numbers.
Christmas is a wonderful time to photograph seasonal subjects and events. You can capture family Christmas gatherings, Christmas trees, and cosy holiday atmospheres. With the right amount of practice, you’ll master your Christmas photography skills.
To get started, use our indoor Christmas photography ideas! These tips and tricks will help you take wonderful indoor pictures. As a reward, you’ll have life-long photo memories of everything you love.
Check out this great post on how to create personalised Christmas photo cards!