Have You Always Struggled Taking Holiday Images? Here Are Some Quick Tips to Help.

It’s a good idea for a change to try and take some interesting and different images this holiday season. Now depending on what part of the world you are in, the decorations that are available and the things to shoot around this time of the year will be different.

These photography tips will be transferable skills that you can apply for any lights shooting.

The tips for photographing the decorations can be applied to shooting any monument or tourist hotspot, and not just the winter holiday thematic items like Christmas trees, lights, and stars. The lighting suggestions will apply in many other situations as well!

1.  Shoot Before Dark

Let’s say you’re photographing houses that have loads of Christmas lights on them. You do not want to wait until nighttime. While your eyes can filter out the fact that it is black in the background. However, in a photo, black is not that interesting.

Choose the time just before the light drops out of the sky. You will get the saturated beautiful blue in the sky pretty much any night of the week, even on the overcast night.

You should start just before the sun has fully set and you will be able to get some beautiful blues in the sky. This will also keep your dynamic range more manageable. If you have total black in the sky and burning bright lights in the house, then the range would be just too bright for your sensor to be able to deal with.

If you get in a little bit earlier, you can bring that ratio in closer, keep the beautiful saturated skies, and not completely blow out the lights. 

christmas tree

2. Consider Your White Balance

Playing with your white balance gives you some dramatic effects. If your camera has a default setting on auto white balance, you can scroll through and see the different options for the white balance.

If you choose tungsten white balance, it will make the sky in your photograph a very neon blue.

Experiment with the different white balance presets on your camera to see which one draws out the colors you want to accentuate in your photos. 

woman drinking

Keep in mind that because of the varying lights that may be in your images, your white balance may need to be adjusted in post-processing.

This is easily done in Lightroom using the Temperature and Tint sliders or even my favorite method – using the “eye-dropper” tool. See my video tutorial below.

While your images may naturally be warmer from the glow of Christmas lights, you can use these sliders to ensure the white balance of your photo has the right amount of warmth and true to life.

3. Consider the Background

Your brain can focus out many of the distractions, but the reality is that there are buildings in the background and a heavy flow of people around.

Therefore, you need to choose a focal object, zoom in on it, and then frame it against the background carefully so you can isolate the focal object a bit. Consider framing the shot to remove any distractions, or shoot in such a way that your background is blurred, isolating your subject.

You can even opt to use a holiday background. These come in many different styles and colors and can be used in an indoor studio if the weather isn’t cooperating!

christmas gift

4. 360 Study – Look for Details

Many people are photographing the same things around the holidays. Think about how you can make your photos different! Maybe you’re photographing a Christmas tree, but want something more unusual or unique.

We recommend that you do a 360-degree walk all the way around the tree and carefully see all the different elements and details that you can focus on.


It’s possible if you can look at getting just a small part of the scene rather than the broader scene. Then you can refocus on what the backdrop is and more importantly, where the light is. This leads to the next tip.

5. Where Is the Light?

To work on holiday images with the light around, rather than fighting it with flashes, it would be much better to place your subject of the photograph in a place that is already lit well, so that you can keep the bokeh of the holiday lights instead of dimming them with the use of flash.

Take notice of the light around you and place your subjects accordingly.

6. Embrace the Colors

The holidays are a very colorful time of year, and this can be a lot of fun to capture in photos. With all of the colorful lights and decorations around, it isn’t hard to create a festive, cheerful photo.

Embrace the bright and fun colors and use them to create images that speak to the festiveness of this season!

christmas decor

Extra Quick Tips!

When it comes to clients, holiday images are often something they are in search of! Here are a few ways to maximize the holiday season!

  • You can offer fun and creative holiday images to clients, who often are in need of holiday cards!
  • You can offer Christmas mini sessions for clients and make a few extra bucks before the holidays.
  • You can offer free photos for charity during the holiday season.

The holidays present so many opportunities for fun and festive photography. We encourage you to get out there, apply these tips, and try something fun and new!

Happy holidays, friends!

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