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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

Indoor photography can help you understand your camera better. All while capturing special moments with your loved ones. Despite this, you might be afraid of taking photos indoors because of a lack of space, lighting, or nature.

These obstacles don’t have to stop you from creating amazing indoor photos this holiday season. You can overcome this fear by working on various Christmas photography skills.

Indoor Photography Settings – The Short Version

A photographer changing camera settings for indoor Christmas photography

You’ll want most of your indoor photos to be sharp and well-lit.

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 it is when you take outdoor photos.

The more ISO you use, the grainier your photos will look. For the best results, experiment with every ISO number on your camera until you find a certain amount of noise that fits your style.

White Balance

Indoor lights can be vibrant, warm, cold, and much more. It’s important that you understand how to adjust to all kinds of artificial light.

Some cameras will let you manually change your colour temperature. Others will only offer a few options like tungsten, flash, or cloudy.

Either way, you can get the results you want by playing with different modes. The warmer the light, the colder your temperature should be, and vice versa.

And if that’s not enough, try color gel photography.


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. A larger f-number, like f/6.0, will do the opposite.

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

What to Photograph Indoors This Christmas Season

5. Christmas Decorations

An indoor Christmas photography shot of a decoration on a tree

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/1.4, which is affordable and works quickly in low light conditions. If you want to capture more detail, use a macro lens.

Use an f-number ranging from f/1.2 to f/2.5 to create beautiful background bokeh.

The ornaments and branches on your Christmas tree could confuse your camera and make it focus on the wrong things, so I wouldn’t recommend using auto focus when taking closeups. Manually focus on your desired subject for the best results.

4. (Candid) Portraits

An indoor Christmas portrait of a little boy

Christmas is the perfect excuse to spend quality time with your family. You can document your favourite 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 will result in unflattering pictures.

When you take candid photos, shoot in burst mode. This will help you take photos quickly. To avoid making your relatives feel self-conscious in front of the camera, you can shoot from the hip or use a silent shutter.

Shooting from the hip will take the spotlight away from your camera. And using a silent shutter will remove loud distractions.

An indoor Christmas portrait of a little boy meeting a Santa Claus

3. Self-Portraits

Taking self-portraits during the holidays will help you document your growth as an artist. You’ll have to work with the same Christmas-themed props. This will encourage you to use your imagination and find potential in seemingly boring objects.

No matter what kind of self-portraits you’re taking, always use a tripod. If you don’t want to go back and forth to check your results, invest in a camera remote. This will allow you to press the shutter without moving away from your spot.

A flexible mini tripod

A flexible mini tripod is perfect for indoor settings. It doesn’t take up much space and reduces the risk of being knocked into by a running pet or child.

For classic self-portraits, make sure you’re posing in front of a flattering background. This can be a Christmas tree or a pile of beautifully-wrapped gifts.

Place another light source in front of, or next to, yourself so that your entire face is 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.

A girl posing indoors in front of a christmas tree

For moody self-portraits, work with a limited amount of light. You can take photos in a dark room with very few light sources or experiment with colours and bokeh.

A girl posing indoors with christmas lights and beautiful bokeh effects

To make your self-portraits look cosier, wear something Christmas-themed, like a beanie or a sweater.

A girl posing indoors with christmas lights and beautiful bokeh effects

And who says you can’t smile in your moody self-portraits too?

2. Pet Photos

A cute pet portrait of a small dog indoors with christmas lights wrapped around him

Don’t forget to include Christmas-related items in your pet portraits, like Christmas trees, decorations, and lights.

Pets can be fast and unpredictable. They might have a love/hate relationship with your camera. They might be too excited to care about your presence. These things will make it difficult to take sharp indoor pet photos.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your pets happy and distracted:

  • point a laser at a spot they can’t reach, such as the ceiling;
  • hold a treat before you take a photo and reward it with them once you’re done; or
  • if loud noises make your pet uncomfortable, shoot in silent mode.
A cute pet portrait of five dogs indoors with christmas decorations and costume

If you’re planning to photograph several pets, use a wide-angle lens. This will capture your home’s Christmas environment and include every subject in the frame.

1. Christmas Tree Pictures

An indoor christmas photography shot of a decorated tree

Unlike the other subjects in this article, Christmas trees are very bright. If you photograph them incorrectly, you’ll end up with overexposed photos.

To avoid this, make sure you photograph your Christmas tree when everyone is in another room. This will ensure that nobody ends up ruining 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.

Most importantly, pay careful attention to your in-camera exposure. Underexposed photos are much easier to fix than overexposed ones.

An indoor christmas photography shot of a decorated tree

If you like bokeh, take blurred photos of your Christmas tree. Set your aperture to a low f-number and manually focus away from the tree. This will create a beautiful triangle of bokeh like this one.


Christmas is a wonderful time to photograph subjects that aren’t available all year round. You can capture family gatherings, Christmas trees, and cosy holiday atmospheres.

With the right amount of practice, you’ll be able to master your Christmas photography skills. And you’ll take wonderful indoor pictures of everything you love.

We have a great post on how to create personalised Christmas photo cards to check out next!

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

Thank you for reading...

CLICK HERE if you want to capture breathtaking images, without the frustration of a complicated camera.

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You could be just a few days away from finally understanding how to use your camera to take great photos!

Thanks again for reading our articles!

Taya Ivanova

Taya Iv is a curious bookworm, portrait photographer, and admirer of nature. Her photos have been published in international magazines and featured on book covers.

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