By Laura | 20th November 2018

Tips for shooting Christmas portraits

As a photographer, Christmas is a great time to take snaps of the family – but if you want to create some lasting memories, our tips for shooting Christmas portraits will help you to nail this tricky genre.

As with every posed photo session, preparation is key – a tricky thing to get right when the kids want to play with their toys and all the adults are sleeping off Christmas dinner. But if you practice beforehand and keep the shoot technically simple and light-hearted, we think it’s possible to take some amazing images.

Christmas portrait techniques

We all know that Christmas decorations turn the average sitting room into a Santa’s Grotto, right? Okay, maybe you haven’t gone as far as that, but if you have a Christmas tree with some fairy lights, then you’ve got the perfect backdrop for shooting Christmas portraits.

The best way to take some simple Christmas portraits is with an off-camera flash set-up, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple shoot-through umbrella or even a bounced flash will work wonders and mean that there’s likely to be less resistance from the family.

Use a ¼ CTO gel on your flashgun to warm up the light, place your subjects so that the Christmas tree is three or four feet behind them, set the ambient light from the room 1 ½ stops underexposed and shoot a shallow enough depth of field that the tree goes a little out of focus.

Use the flash to throw some lovely soft light onto your family so that they’re exposed properly and stand out from the tree. If you get this right, they’ll be bathed in warm, comforting light and the lights on the tree will be out of focus, throwing some lovely colours into the background.

If you want to step your game up even further you can play around with some LED lights dangled in front of your subjects from above to add even more twinkly Christmas goodness – they really will look like they’re in a Christmas grotto!

Using your images as gifts or cards

If you’re really on the ball, you can take some photos of the family or just the kids and use them to create Christmas cards, or even canvas print gifts for the extended family! It’s a great way to personalise Christmas and put a smile on their faces.

Shooting Christmas portraits can be loads of fun, and a great opportunity to have some family bonding time, so get those lights out and start clicking!


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