Five tips for great Christmas photos

The family is reunited for the holidays, and a group photo seems like the best way to get the whole clan together. It’s also one of the most common pitfalls of photography because this photo op can quickly become trite. Thankfully, we’ve put together our best tips on how to get great Christmas photos!

Thankfully, we’ve put together our best tips on how to get great Christmas photos!

Décor

The background is the décor, the setting that will create your group photo’s atmosphere. Prepare it by scouting out locations if necessary. If you’re photographing a large group, opt for a steeper terrain (an outdoor slope or an indoor staircase) so that you can place your subjects on many different levels and avoid a neat line. Be careful not to choose an overly busy backdrop full of decorations so as not to overpower your subjects.

Décor

Lighting

If you take your photos outdoors, avoid positioning your group facing the sun. Harsh shadows can ruin your subjects’ facial features. Ideally, photograph them during the golden hours (the first and last sunny moments of the day), or else place your subjects at an angle from the sun. If the latter is on a vertical axis, ask your subjects to lift their faces slightly towards the light for more even diffusion.

If you take your photos indoors on Christmas night, take the time to properly analyze the sources of light. Is it too dark? Are there many lamps on? Is the sparkling tree too much? Set your camera to the widest aperture, avoid flash and use your tripod for best results.

Lighting

Placement

It’s up to you to arrange your subjects. Show them where to go and the posture to adopt.

Your first point of reference is the direction of the light. The second is the background you want. Now you just need to place your subjects without lining them up. You can use chairs or a sloped terrain to ensure that they’re on different levels. Place the smallest people in front, ask some to sit and others to stand. If you’re lucky enough to have Santa at your party, place him in the centre. Try to vary poses. For example, you can take close-ups of subjects at a three quarter angle alternated with straight-on shots. It’s the right time to take advantage of someone’s surprise when opening a present, like the excited and pleased face of a child.

Framing

  • Stay close enough to your subjects to properly make out their faces.
  • Avoid making a compact group that’s perfectly centred and apply the rule of thirds.
  • Put yourself on your subjects’ level, especially if you’re photographing a group of children.
Framing

You’re the director!

A group photo is inherently posed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be authentic. It’s up to you to put your subjects at ease: talk to them when arranging them and give them clear directions about how to place their hands or where to direct their gaze. When the time comes to take the photo and say "Cheese!", delay pressing the button to give them time to relax. Finally, alternate poses with freer moments where each person can make a face, funny expression or particular movement. Don’t forget to warn them about keeping their eyes open before each photo.

You’re the director!
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Five tips for great Christmas photos

The family is reunited for the holidays, and a group photo seems like the best way to get the whole clan together. It’s also one of the most common pitfalls of photography because this photo op can quickly become trite. Thankfully, we’ve put together our best tips on how to get great Christmas photos!
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