Tips for Taking Great Family Pictures over the Festive Season
two border terriers in the snow wearing Christmas hats

I am sure as you get older the quicker the time goes by and I can’t quite believe that Christmas is on the horizon. After which seems such a wretched year, I know many of us are looking forward to being with family without the restrictions we have had in place for months.  I therefore, thought it would be a good idea to talk about how to take photos at Christmas and what to do with the images afterwards. I hope this guide will inspire you to create a lasting memory of what is going to be a very special Christmas together with family.

The importance of family photos

This is a picture of me age nearly 3, Christmas 1966 and when I look at these photos I remember how the dressing gown fabric felt when I stroked it, how I loved the tree decorations and the fake snow!
We need to capture these memories for the following reasons:-

  • Time goes by quickly
  • Memories of events need to preserved
  • Documenting your family life to be passed down to future generations
  • Photos are not just for now

So how do I preserve these memories?

  • Make a habit of printing out your favourites
  • Get professional fine art paper or photographic paper prints eg the printspace
  • Make a photo book e.g with blurb

What Kit do you need?

Photography is all about your eye, how you see the world.

If you have a camera, that is fabulous but if not get to know how to use your smart phone camera settings
Just make sure that either your phone or camera can have an output of a minimum of 240 dpi so that the quality is good enough to print out.

Images do need to be backed up in 3+ places so don’t forget to do this. examples of backing up are:-

  • Laptop/desktop
  • USB stick
  • External hard drive
  • iCloud

Your laptop or desktop is also needed to order giftware and design coffee table books when you come to deciding what to do with your images


Document the Details before the festivities begin

With everyone putting up their Christmas decorations up early this year, I would recommend taking photographs of the decorations as soon as they are up so that you don’t wait until Christmas Day to do so as your life will be so busy then – save yourself the stress and enjoy taking shots of the front door wreath, the mantlepiece, the stairs and the tree decorations.  The following images and video were taken with my iphone.

Portraits – where to start?

Where is the light?

Make sure your subject has light on their face. This could be either from the window, lights from the tree, next to a lamp. If the light is behind them their face will be dark unless you trigger the flash on your camera or smart phone or bring a light source in to illuminate their face.

Try different angles

Once you have your subject in the right light, try different angles. eg instead of looking down on a child get down to their level. With adults shoot at their eye level or slightly above.  Move around your subject and see how the light source falls on their face.

Landscape or portrait orientation?

Shoot in both at each stage as both can give a very different look and also you will add to the bank of imagery that will be very flexible if your thinking of putting together a coffee table book.

Don’t crop in too much

Cropped portraits can be dynamic but do this on a copy of the original image. Allow space around the subject for print crops eg a 10×8 inch print will need to be wider than a 7×5 inch print.

Group shots – take loads!

These are images that I took at a networking group that I attend called SisterSnog and these were taken at our Christmas event in Notting Hill a few years ago.  We had such a wonderful time!

When taking group shots – take loads!  There are always going to be blinks. Ask family members to tell a joke so there are wonderful photojournalistic moments.

Practice ahead of time to set up you smart phone or camera on a tripod/stand and put it on timer so everyone can be in the photo, otherwise, swap with a family member to take the shots. Aim to do these before lunch as afterward people will be far too full to want to have their photograph taken.

Small Groups

Bring them close together, either outside, facing a light source or use flash.  A mixure of looking at the camera and laughing together.

Larger Groups

Bring then close together if standing, ask them to turn slightly sideways to make the most of the space. Remember where is the light? Layer them, some standing, kneeling, sitting.

Layering groups

Where you have a large number of people layer them. A sofa can be a great way of having multiple layers. young Children can be seated on laps and on the floor. Family can sit on the arms and back of the sofa.

Christmas Day

Remember to enjoy the experience so don’t worry about capturing everything!

  • Children opening presents
  • Presents
  • Children in their Christmas best by the tree
  • Grandparents with grandchildren
  • You with family – ask someone to take a picture of you.
  • Family hugs
  • Group shots before lunch
  • The table shots (both ends)
  • Pulling cracker shots
  • Food details
  • Life at the table
  • Photo journalistic shots of the afternoon – board games, party games

Again, here are images from our Christmas event with SisterSnog to highlight how wonderful it is to capture the fun!

So, what next? What are you going to do with the images?  I would suggest either print them out using eg Snappy Snaps or Photobox for prints to hand around the family or you can make a photobook.  Earlier on this year I did write a post on how to design a book and if you want some inspiration then have a look at this post – click HERE



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