Photography Tips for the Holidays

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This post is for letter “P” in the 2016 ABCs of Homeschooling Through the Holidays series.

Photography Through The Holidays


The holidays are stressful for most people. I imagine there are some ladies out there who have it all together. Those are the ones the rest of us are secretly jealous of. I know I am. It would be amazing if I could get through the holiday season without feeling like I was messing something up. For me, the holiday season starts with Halloween and goes through New Year’s Day. Somewhere in there, I will lose my mind. It never fails.

I grew up in a family of amateur photographers. Everyone had a camera around for any event that took place. You can guarantee you would be in at least one photo with food in your mouth, or caught talking. And that stupid photo always made it to the photo album just to haunt you for years. By the end of the holiday season, no wanted to see the camera. It’s like that still today.

Photography Through The Holidays!

Lighting is Everything!!

Please remember this! I rarely use a flash with my photos because it can be too harsh on the skin or create those annoying dark shadows. A quick tip to help diffuse (reduce the bright light to be softer) on camera flash of a DSLR is to cut a piece of white, printer paper. Cut the paper into a square that will fit over or stick in your flash. You can tape it if need be to the body of the camera. Whenever you take a photo now, your light will be softer and everyone will look better.

Photography Through The Holidays

ALSO – Natural lighting is my friend so let it be yours. If you want to take photos of your family when the sun is still out, place them near a window. It will produce a beautiful light for your image without hardly any work. If you place them with the sun behind them, their faces will come out dark with shadows.

Bokeh Fun!

I love to have fun with the lighting around Christmas since it is always festive with multi-colored lights. To create a fun lighting effect on your images, like Cityscapes or Christmas trees, get a black piece of construction paper. Cut the paper in half and make sure it will fit over your entire lens. If it does, cut a little heart out of the center of the construction paper. You can use a heart hole punch if you have one. Place the paper back over the lens and tape down. You are now ready for some Heart Shaped Bokeh Fun. Give it a try. You can use star shapes, Christmas trees, or plain ole circles.

Photography Through The Holidays

For natural bokeh without the paper, set your camera on a tripod! Adjust your settings to these: ISO 800, F-Stop: 1.8, Shutter Speed: 1/50.

Photography Through The Holidays


Inattentive Young Children and Babies!!

We have all been there. The children who won’t look to save Christmas if they needed to. You’ve probably seen those stuffed animals you can buy to put on your camera. Those are great but search your kid’s rooms first. You’d be surprised at what stuffed animal you could find. I use a dog toy for mine. Seriously. It has a circular opening and the top is a lion that rattles. It is genius and kills two birds with one stone. Just be sure to get a generic, friendly-looking stuffed animal. I am not sure how kids would like having a zombie or creature from the black lagoon looking at them.

Photography Through The Holidays

The Tripod is Your Friend!

Please remember this. The tripod is a great tool to have sharp images. I rarely use one but Marty (my husband) does. His photos never disappoint. I know it’s because he uses the tripod more than I do. Plus, you can put your camera on the tripod, press the timer and GET IN YOUR FAMILY HOLIDAY PHOTO!

Photography Through The Holidays

Timer Timer Timer!!

Moms and sometimes Dads too can be invisible during the holidays. It never fails that the one behind the camera ends up rarely being in front of it. Insert awkward cell phone selfies that aren’t flattering and never turn out like you hope. Go into the settings of your camera. Scroll down to Interval Timer Shooting (this is on Nikon, sorry to other brands). Even if you have a Canon, Sony, etc, you should be able to find something worded similarly in your menu. Choose a start time, how often you want an image taken (say every 2 minutes), and the number of shots it takes at that time. Here is my best example and it worked great for me on Christmas Morning.
I woke up before my kids and turned on the camera. I set it to start taking photos at 7:30 a.m., every 2 minutes, with 3 shots each time. I know it sounds like a lot but it was worth it. I set up the camera and tripod in the living room (with the sunlight coming in from behind the camera) to capture ALL OF US. We weren’t always in focus but I love every single image. Some were funny – like the dogs eating wrapping paper or hidden behind it. I just made sure my batteries were all charged the night before, and I knew how to set the timer so I wasn’t stumbling on Christmas morning.


Photography Through The Holidays


I hope you have a Blessed Holiday Season and Merry Christmas!


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Hi, there! I’m Heather Bowen, and I am so glad you’re here.

My passion lies in helping homeschool moms balance marriage, motherhood, homemaking, and homeschooling all while remaining sane!

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