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5 Easy Indoor Christmas Photo Shoot Ideas (With Examples)

Last updated: December 6, 2023 - 9 min read
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Here are five indoor Christmas photo shoot ideas for you to try! An indoor Christmas photoshoot helps you understand your camera better. It also helps 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 indoor Christmas photography ideas will improve your skills and create lasting memories. You’ll learn to use props, take Christmas portraits, and experiment with indoor camera settings. We hope this will push your creativity and help you cherish Christmastime.

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5 Easy Indoor Christmas Photo Shoot Ideas

First, what is an indoor Christmas photo shoot? Basically, it’s taking pictures inside a house, studio, or location to capture happy holiday moments. We use props, lights, and special backgrounds to make a cozy and warm scene.

To start, take a look around your home. What rooms feel the coziest, and where are your holiday decorations? What subjects or props can you use? Take inventory, gather your supplies, and choose the best place to take pictures.

The goal is to make beautiful, heartwarming photos that show the spirit of Christmas. Try our indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas below to help get you started. And follow your own inspirations as they arise.

1. Use Christmas Decorations as Your Subjects

Decorations are a brilliant way to capture a unique Christmas mood. And you don’t need a fancy lens to take sharp photos of toys, tree decorations, and other details.

You can use a cheap prime lens like a Canon RF 50mm 1.8 STM. It’s both affordable and works well in low-light conditions. If you want to capture more detail, use a macro lens. An aperture from f/1.2 to f/2.5 creates a beautiful background blur and a Christmas light bokeh effect.

The position of ornaments and branches on your Christmas tree can result in poor autofocusing. For this reason, I don’t recommend using autofocus (AF) when taking close-ups.

Instead, switch to manual focus (MF) and focus on your desired subject manually for the best results. Focusing using your camera’s Live View mode or focus peaking can help if it’s too dark in the viewfinder to find your subject.

Get creative with the same Christmas-themed props as the years go by. And use your imagination. You may even find inspiration in seemingly boring objects.

Close-up of a toy soldier ornament hanging on a tree with bokeh light as one of our indoor Christmas photo shoot ideas
Shot with a Fujifilm X-Pro 3. 35mm (5omm full-frame equivalent), f/1.4, 1/70 s. ISO 320. Lucas Hoang (Unsplash)

2. Shoot Candid and Posed Christmas Portraits

Christmas is the perfect excuse to spend quality time with your family. You can document your favorite moments by taking posed and candid photos of your loved ones.

Pay careful attention to your white balance when you take photos of people. Too much warmth or coldness results in unflattering pictures. It can even create an orange effect on the skin.

When you take candid photos, shoot in burst mode with a fast shutter speed. This helps you take many pictures at once and capture the best moment.

Keep your relatives comfortable in front of the camera by “shooting from the hip.” Or, try using a silent shutter. Shooting from the hip takes the spotlight away from your camera. And using a silent shutter removes loud distractions.

A woman setting a table for a Ukrainian Christmas with a lit tree in the background as one of our semi-posed indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas
A posed Christma portrait. Shot with a  Nikon D810. 50mm, f/2.2, 1/125 s, ISO 320. Євгенія Височина (Unsplash)

3. Take Holiday Self-Portraits

Take self-portraits during the holidays. You can document your growth as an artist over the years! For this, it’s not necessary to use a digital camera. You can also use your smartphone.

Always use a camera tripod or a phone tripod, no matter what kind of self-portraits you take. And 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.

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.

Make sure you’re posing in front of a flattering background for classic self-portraits. This can be a Christmas tree or a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts. Place another light source in front of or next to yourself. This keeps your entire face visible in your portrait.

Shot with a Canon, EOS 6D. 85mm, f/1.8, 1/100 s, ISO 1250. Quỳnh Lê Mạnh (Unsplash)

To avoid fake smiles, have a family member entertain you while you take pictures. It might feel a little awkward at first. But, it becomes a humorous experience that leaves you with lots of funny outtakes and memories.

For moody self-portraits, work with low light. You can take photos in a dark room with few light sources or experiment with colors and bokeh.

Make your self-portraits look cozy by wearing something Christmas-themed. Christmas sweaters or beanies are reliable go-to’s. And who says you can’t smile in your moody self-portraits, too?

A couple posing for a Christmas selfie in front of a tree, fireplace, and stockings as one of our indoor Christmas photo shoot ideas
Selfie Christmas portrait. Shot with a Canon EOS 6D. 50mm, f/1.8, 1/250 s, ISO 800. Shanique Wright (Unsplash)

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! Both behaviors 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
  • 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. They let you capture your home’s entire Christmas environment. Plus, they help you keep all subjects in the frame.

Dog portrait with a white Christmas tree and background as one of our indoor Christmas photo shoot ideas
Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 II. 29mm, f/10, 1/100 s, ISO 125. Rob Buckton (Unsplash)

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 end up with overexposed photos.

To avoid this, photograph your Christmas tree without others in the room. This ensures 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 emphasize your tree’s colors and decorations. You can also use bracketing to balance 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. Shoot in RAW so you can fix exposure with Lightroom or alternative editing software without any quality loss.

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. This creates a beautiful triangle of bokeh like the ones below.

The photo on the left was taken at a 50mm focal length, an aperture of f/2, a shutter speed of 1/80 s, and a 400 ISO. The photo on the right had these camera settings—56mm, f/1.4, 1/20 s, ISO 400.

Left: Shot with a Sony a7 II. Roman Lopez (Unsplash). Right: Shot with a Panasonic Lumix DC-G9. Kai Wenzel (Unsplash).

Best Camera Settings for Indoor Christmas Photoshoot Ideas

You want most of your indoor photos to be sharp and well-lit. Strive for a white balance close to what you see with your eyes. To achieve this, you need to adjust the following settings on your camera.


Aperture, or f-number, determines how sharp or blurry your photos look.

A small f-number like f/1.2 separates your subject from its background. You get a brighter photo as more light comes into the camera. A larger f-number like f/9 does the opposite.

Again, if you want your subjects to stand out, or if you want to create a bokeh effect, use small f-numbers.

Candid photo of two kids wearing Santa hats sitting on a couch as one of our indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas
Candid Christmas portrait. Shot with a Canon EOS RP. 50mm, f/2.5, 1/80 s, ISO 1600. Richard Stachmann (Unsplash)


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 look. If you have a camera with a poor low-light capacity, stick to 800 as the largest ISO. You have more wiggle room with more advanced digital cameras. Depending on your system, you can increase ISO to 3200 or 5000.

Newer camera models often feature an ISO-invariant sensor. With this tool, you don’t have to worry about getting grainy photos. Try a flash or strobe to illuminate your scene to avoid a high ISO.

Candid close-up of a woman with fairy lights as one of our indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas
A candid portrait with fairy lights shot with a Sony a7 III. 85mm, f/1.8, 1/320 s, ISO 640. Ionela Mat (Unsplash)

White Balance

Indoor lights can be vibrant, warm, cold, or a color temperature somewhere in between. It’s important to understand how to adjust artificial light through white balance.

You can get the desired effects by playing with different white balance presets. Tungsten or fluorescent modes in indoor photography tend to give the best results.

Most cameras let you adjust your color temperature as needed, generally between 1000 and 5000K (Kelvin). Again, shoot in RAW for the best results if you want to change the white balance during editing.

A Christmas tree with white Christmas lights at the end of a long dark hallway as one of our indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas
Shot with a Nikon D500. 17mm, f/2.8, 1/250 s, ISO 4000. Photo by Bao Menglong (Unslapsh)

Conclusion: Indoor Christmas Photoshoot Ideas

Christmas is a wonderful time to photograph seasonal subjects and events. You can capture family holiday gatherings, Christmas trees, and cozy holiday atmospheres. And you can master your Christmas photography skills with the right amount of practice.

We hope our indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas get you started! These tips and tricks will help you take wonderful indoor pictures. As a result, you’ll have life-long photo memories of everything you love at Christmas.

Check out our other fantastic post to create personalized Christmas photo cards!

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