What to Photograph this Christmas

Christmas brings sparkles, family and lots of little things to photograph. Trouble is, the season is so busy with parties, events and preparations; that it can be difficult to pick up the camera.

We have compiled a list of our top 5 favourite things to photograph during the festive season and the best news is, it won’t take hours to photograph each one!

1. Christmas lights

It doesn’t have to be photographs of the tree – get creative! What can you drape fairy lights around?  The baby? The dog? Your Christmas cake?! As long as it is safe, it will add a festive feel to the image and the sparkles will add a wonderful ambient light to your image.

This is great for featuring products that you make/bake and making them festive for your social media pages – or a great way to document your families age this year for a Christmas card?

As much light as possible again is helpful with a lot of light coming into the camera – think high ISO and wide open apertures to let the light in.


2. People and animals.

With the influx of Christmas parties and visiting loved ones near and far, it is the perfect opportunity to take the camera with you.

If you would like a more relaxed feel to your photographs, why not photograph them in a documentary style – making a coffee, shaking up a cocktail or preparations for decorating the cake with the grandkids. That makes sure the subject is a lot more relaxed in front of the camera as they don’t feel as if they need to pose, and then you can move onto the more posed images later on.

Posed images of people, make sure you look out for 2 things – lighting and the surroundings. Try to place your lovely person next to or near to a window with natural light. By all means, have the artificial lights and Christmas lights on in the background as that will add ambient light and a nice glow to the images. If it is dark, make sure you put the main lights on in the room as this will illuminate their faces. Experiment with where the light is, ask them to move away/closer to it to see the different effects the light has on the skin tone.

One of the best ways to pose a person, is to have them sitting or leaning on something. I find cosy armchairs next to the Christmas tree are just lovely and add a real relaxed Christmas card feel!

Extra bonus points if the doggy or cat is lying on the floor next to them!


3.  Christmas trees.

Christmas trees can be notorious for photographing – they are either too dark or too bright with the branches looking more like twiglets than branches!

The plan for this is to be using warm, ambient light to make it feel really warm and cosy .

The image of the Christmas tree at The Ritz for example was photographed handheld with the following settings –

Christmas tree settings – White balance Fluorescent, ISO 2000, aperture f2.8 and shutter speed was 1/60th of a second.

The decisions behind those settings – fluorescent white balance uses the artificial light in the room and give the correct colour cast.  This makes the image warm and inviting; if the white balance had not manually been changed, then perhaps the colours would have been off and flat.

The ISO at 2000 is pretty high, but if we had not increased the ISO, the shutter speed would have been too slow to capture this scene hand-held. By increasing the ISO, we create a faster shutter speed – vital when we have no tripod.

The aperture was chosen at f2.8 to let as much light into the camera as possible.  The shutter speed was balanced for the exposure scale at “0” for the optimum exposure.

This would work for people next to the tree as well as long as they are fairly still – you would need to make the shutter faster to make sure that any moving children/pets are captured well.


4.  Food.

We might have been told not to play with our food, but there is certainly nothing wrong with photographing it!

Natural light and reflectors are our friends when it comes to natural lighting – a reflector is a giant hula hoop ring wrapped in reflective material that reflects the natural light back into the scene.  If you do not have one, then perhaps white cardboard or a cardboard box with tin foil wrapped around also does the job perfectly.

The aim of the game for food photography if you are a food or lifestyle blogger, or a food business, is to keep things simple. Beautiful bright plates and simple backgrounds make sure the focus is on your edibles rather than getting distracted by what is going on in the background. However, if you would like a lifestyle busy scene in the background with people in the sitting room; then make sure there is enough distance between them and your subject, focus on your subject with a narrow depth of field to make sure that everything in the background is out of focus.


5. Lifestyle.

Lifestyle is your surroundings. See a beautiful tree in London?  Or a gorgeous wintery scene outside?  Perhaps a wreath hanging on your front door?  These images are classed as lifestyle images and are wonderful for adding detail images to your social media pages if you are a business; or adding people into those scenes if you are photographing for your family.

Looking out for non cluttered scenes is idea, repeat patterns and good, even lighting is the aim of the game here.

What could you photograph that would be covered by lifestyle images this Christmas?


We would love to see your images this Christmas – tag Summers Photography UK on Facebook or Instagram in your images!

Or drop us an email at [email protected]

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