Simple Photography Tips over Christmas and New Year

5 minute read

Tips to Improve Your Photos over the Christmas Holidays

My friends often ask for advice to improve their photos, so I thought I'd pass on some basic tips anyone can try, whether you're using a DSLR, point and shoot or smartphone. Of course, the standard of equipment makes a difference, but there are things you can do regardless of your camera.

This post will focus on photographing at this time of year, when light is low, weather can be miserable  and there's so much going on.  Just a few tips for you to consider.

1. Get Outside!

The biggest obstacle to better photos over winter is low natural light.  Shorter days, darker mornings and evenings and bad weather, it barely seems to get light some days.  Natural light is going to vastly improve your photos compared to normal indoor lighting, especially if you're using a a phone.

My advice is to take advantage of natural light in the daytime by getting outside as much as you can.  Shake off the cobwebs, wrap up warm and go for a walk with the kids.  ESPECIALLY if it snows!  You'll be spending plenty of time indoors as it is.  If you want to take a quick snap of the kids dressed up for Christmas celebrations and it's still daytime, pop outside for a moment.  Use that light!

2. Use Your Windows

There's no getting away from the fact that the weather can be cold and miserable at this time of year and it's just not that pleasant being outside sometimes.  If you're taking photos in daylight hours, use light from your windows as much as you can.  Get your subject close to a window.

Most importantly, remember that you want to see the light from the window on your subject.  Position yourself so that the window is behind or to the side of you, not in front of you with the subject inbetween.  Check out these photos taken on my (in need of an upgrade) phone, for example.

 The light from the window behind Jorja is so bright that her face is in shadow

The light from the window behind Jorja is so bright that her face is in shadow

 Swapping position with Jorja, the light from the window is now hitting and illuminating her face 

Swapping position with Jorja, the light from the window is now hitting and illuminating her face 

The closer to the window you get, the darker the background will be as your camera exposes for the face. This makes your subject really stand out.

3. Document, don't pose

This is a great time of year to capture memories in your images.  All the seasonal celebrations and family get-togethers provide numerous opportunities for documentary photographs.  Rather than setting up a photograph after the event and asking your family to turn and smile, try to anticipate what might happen and be ready to take a few shots.  Some photos won't work out, but you might end up with some that you love the most because they represent reality.  Here's a few ideas:-

  • Decorating the tree
  • Writing a letter to Santa
  • Expressions when your kids see if Santa has been
  • Present opening
  • Family hugs and loves
  • Pulling crackers
  • Playing with new toys
  • Building a snowman
  • Cooking Christmas dinner
  • Family traditions

Have some fun with it, but remember to put the camera down sometimes (I have to remind myself too!) and enjoy the celebrations.

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I hope you find this helpful and have a wonderful Christmas with your family.  Please do comment below or send me an email to info@jennyharperphotography.com if you have any questions or things you would like me to cover as I'm planning to have regular photo tips posts next year.  You can subscribe to my blog at the top right of this page.