A few weeks ago, I attended my third Blog On conference and I was yet again blown away by the sessions, how friendly yet professional the whole event was and the range of brands in attendance. I led a creative workshop focusing on Christmas Photo Ideas and here are my notes, brimming with tips from fab fellow bloggers.
These ideas should be easy enough to implement straight away to improve your festive photos of food, crafts and children. Simple tricks or props can make a big difference when you’re rushing around trying to create, live and capture these little moments.
“I genuinely find the best pictures are the unposed ones where everyone looks natural rather than cheesy smiles. I love taking pictures of the children playing outside in the snow (on the rare occasions we get snow) and decorating the tree.” Cheryl at ‘Mummy of 5 Miracles’
“When taking photos of a child, I allow them to have fun with the photo, perhaps hold a small toy or have a favourite teddy which they are close to (could be out of shot). George often chooses his own clothes or footwear and it makes him feel like he is in control.
I tend to get involved with the play so I can get down on his level – especially if I am trying to capture natural shots.
“If I am looking for a certain type of photo or working with a brand, I always talk to George about what we are doing. I ask him what he would like to do, then I direct him as well so we have some fun together whilst getting the shot I am looking for.” Kerri-Ann at ‘Life As Our Little Family’
“Best Christmas photos? When I’m in them too (so often mama gets missed!).” Becky at ‘Baby Budgeting’
Here are a few more ideas I find quite effective:
- We have a little tradition on Christmas eve. Just before bed, we all get a new pair of pyjamas. Not only does it make that last night before Christmas feel even more special, it also means we all have nice pyjamas for photos on Christmas day!
- If you are camera shy, just be silly and have fun with your family as the photo is being taken. Wear a Christmas hat, elf ears, pull faces, tickle the children… Just do anything that will help get rid of your ‘camera face’ and replace it by the real you!
- If you really can’t stand the thought of your face being in shot, you could get someone to take a photo of your hands holding a mug of hot chocolate, a mince pie or a cupcake.
Photo credit: Kerri-Ann at ‘Life As Our Little Family’
Tips on how to style photos quickly
Setting up, finding the window with the best light, getting accessories out, etc. takes time. If you can, take photos in batches to save time and increase productivity.
When you set up for a range of shots, keep in mind the platform you intend to post the photo on, as the ideal size for photos is differs depending on the platform you are using. I have written at length about it here.
What kinds of props to use and where to source them?
First of all, please don’t run to the shops to buy tons of props just for Christmas photos! Start by rummaging around your home. You’ll probably end up with a lot more festive props than you expect, and remember that most every day objects can be turned into props to style your photos. If you do buy props, make sure it’s something you’ll end up using, not just for photos.
Look for anything you deem ‘festive’ in your house.
It could be anything red or dark green, tinsel, baubles, fairy lights, gold ornaments or cutlery, ribbons, napkins, old Christmas cards to upcycle, Bananagrams letter tiles, washi tape, evergreen plants…
If you are after something specific and not too expensive, try Primark, the Pound shop, supermarkets, DotComGiftShop, Wayfair or eBay. Not on the High Street and Etsy will also have nice pieces, but you will have to spend a bit more.
Natural light in winter?
I still use natural light in winter (make sure you turn off all your lights at home), but be aware that you’ll have to take your photos between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. between mid-November and mid-February.
“I think you need to be organised and try to work when the sun is at its highest for lovely natural light with your tree and decorations. In the Winter months that’s pretty much 10 a.m. to 3 pm.m! Short days, so allowing yourself a bit of extra time for your photos is good.” Jodie at ‘Maidenhead Mum’
How to use light(s) for a festive effect?
Embrace the change in the seasons and the warmer light.
“Add fairy lights! It makes such a difference!” Jade at ‘Mummies Waiting’
“Definitely go with the season and embrace the darkness. Lots of candle light and fairy lights. It’s winter so it’s not supposed to be light and airy. Oh and get a bokeh shot in front of the Christmas tree.” Catherine at ‘Mama Cat and Baby Bee’
“I usually make the photos of a darker tone and colour specific. At Christmas I use lots of reds and fairy lights. I think lighting is a huge tool to help increase the festive feel, natural light for October-November and lots of candles etc for December photos, especially since natural light is hard to come by in the deep winter months.” Kirsty at ‘Winnettes’
“Lots of light in natural, warm colours positioned against the dark & shadows. A candle glowing in the dark for example or fairy lights in the corner of a room.
Symbols of the season like a tree, or something that makes you feel cosy and snug when you look at it, like an open fire.
Pine cones and silver glitter for props, along with a stocking or two.” Jo at ‘Cup of Toast’
When taking photos of candles, fairy lights and Christmas tree lights, make sure your turn the flash off. If the image is not exposed exactly like you want it to be, you can try to increase the exposure if the image is too dark or reduce the exposure if the image is too bright.
Christmas food is generally associated with opulence, generosity and profusion. Make it look that way.
Don’t take a photo of a tiny piece of turkey with a lonely Brussel sprout and a single roast potato on a large plate!
Add all things festive to give your photo the spirit of Christmas. You could add pine cones, a glass of bubbly, cinnamon sticks and the photo will turn festive as if by magic.
Festive doesn’t have to be tacky. It can be sleek and modern.
If you fancy more tips about photography, check the following posts: taking your camera off auto mode, styling photos for your blog or social media, photographing animals, family photo shoots, improving your food photography and food photography with artificial light.