10 Tips For Capturing Christmas Day

I know we all like to capture the holiday season, and Christmas Day in particular!  So, today, I've put together some  tips for you that are especially for photographing Christmas day, to help you be prepared and get the shots you want.  

Remember, when photographing christmas day, it's not necessarily about getting perfect shots, or making sure you capture every little thing, it's more about ensuring that you get the one or two shots that are important to you, perhaps along with some that help you tell the story of the day, or simply freeze special moments for you to look back on.  So, once you have taken a few, put the camera down for a while and join in the day too - or at least go and get the dinner on :)

So, here's 10 Christmas Photography Tips for anyone wishing to capture their festivities at this time of year.

1) Make A List

Yes, I'm super organised, even at Christmas :)  If you have some shots you want to make sure that you get - like Grandma with the kids, or the table set for Christmas before everyone descends on it - then make a list of your must-take shots. That way you can refer to it throughout the day and make sure you have everything captured! 

2) Be Prepared

The night before, make sure that you have a clear memory card, and a fully charged battery ready to go. With these two things done you can't really go wrong, but you might also want to look out your external flash, or expodisc so you are fully prepared. 

3) Set White Balance

Christmas is simply one of those times when white balance might be a nightmare - usually because there are multiple light sources which makes setting a white balance difficult. Just set your white balance to the main light source, either using Kelvin or a white balance custom method, like these here. 

4) Watch Your Aperture

If you are photographing more than one person, keep an eye on the aperture you are using to make sure you have a large enough depth of field.  A very general rule of thumb is to make sure your aperture is the same number as the number of people you are photographing, for example, for a group of three you want you aperture to be around F3.5 and for a group of 6, it would be F6.3 or so.  If that means you need to bump your ISO, so be it. (but take a look at these tips for reducing noise too!

5) Let in More Light or Diffuse your Flash

If it is still quite dark out when you are taking your images, it can be tempting to use your pop up flash. If you hurry you can still get a pop up flash diffuser which softens the light, making them look much more professional than if you had just used the flash alone (You can read more about this here).  Alternatively, use an external flash unit for even better light without the harsh shadows - you can find a step by step guide to using one indoors here.  Alternatively, just make sure that try to get as much light on the scene as you can, by opening shutters, blinds, windows, doors and so, to maximise the light getting into the room. 

6) Switch to Burst Mode

If you are photographing something like unwrapping presents, it can be a good idea to use burst mode - where your camera takes more than one image when you press the shutter - it can be invaluable for getting the exact facial expression you were after! 

7) Capture The Details

I'm a sucker for a detail shot at any time and Christmas is no exception! Capture the smaller details of the day, such as the wrapping paper, the music playing on the iPod, or the weather outside. They all add up to tell a much more complete story of the day.  You can also capture some of details the night before,  such as the tree and so on, so you don't need to take them during such a busy day!

8)  Get In Close

When shooting, it can be tempting just to do it from where you are sitting, and capture the whole scene. Whilst that is fine for some shots, it can be better to get in a little bit closer and fill the frame more with the subject. That way, you really focus on the story you are trying to tell, and cut out a lot of visual clutter.   Remember to also get down to the level of the person you are shooting - so if the kids are on the floor opening presents, so are you :) 

9) Capture the Lights

It's not Christmas without some sparkly lights! I always try to include some lights in my images on Christmas - and you can find out some different ways to do this on this post How to Photograph Christmas Lights! 

10) Set Up The Tripod

I know someone who sets up their tripod on Christmas Day, and then has their remote timer go off every ten minutes throughout the day! That way, they are actually in the photos, plus they get a nice, natural set of images. If that doesn't float your boat, then at least remember to hand the camera over to someone else so you at least make an appearance in the photos! 

Once you have done all this - and before you cook dinner for 12 - put your camera down and simply enjoy the day!