5 INCREDIBLE Holiday Photography Tips

5 INCREDIBLE Holiday Photography Tips!

Bells are ringing, trees are glowing, and cookies are baking! Just one ingredient left to add - your camera!!

Taking amazing photographs during the holiday season is sometimes a challenge, but with these amazing 5 photography tips, you will be ready to capture ALL of those incredible moments.

Watch the video and read up below!

Holiday Photography Tip 1:

For the best bokeh (blurry backgrounds) move your subject further away from the background.

Bokeh is the term that describes how blurry the background behind your subject is. The more bokeh, the blurrier the background (cool, right!). 

Bokeh is controlled by 3 main things, but the one that is EASIEST to manipulate when you're using any type of camera (yes, even your phone camera), is this one: 

You get blurrier backgrounds when your subject is FURTHER AWAY from your background. 

So if you're looking to capture those amazing photos with your subject in front of your tree filled with Christmas lights, try getting your subject/s to take 2 steps forward. This way, you're creating more distance between your subject and your background, giving you better blur! WOOHOO!

Moving Charlotte away from the tree allowed us to blur the lights of the tree.

35mm : ISO 2000 : f1.4 : 1/100

BONUS TIP: You can also create blur in the FOREGROUND of your photos too! Try putting your subject BEHIND some pretty lights, and see what you can create! 

Focusing on our children behind the tree allows us to blur the lights of the tree in front of them.

35mm : ISO 1000 : f1.4 : 1/60

Holiday Photography Tip 2:

Be careful with the "bits and pieces" in your shots.

The garbage cans, the random toys, the mess on the walls etc...

This is the challenge with holiday photography - we often don't have control over ALL of the elements of our photos. Indoors, our spaces are limited, and our houses are often full of those wonderful "life" things - toys, posters, drawings, mess (my house is quite full of this). Outdoors, we are limited by things like garbage cans, cars in front of light displays, down pipes, scraggly gardens and more! 

With all of these "bits and pieces", we often have to change our plans for our photographs - moving to a new location, changing angle, and if you can, moving your subjects around - all of these steps will help you to get rid of the "bits and pieces" that turn up in your photos. 

So pay attention to the unwanted elements, and do your best to leave them out. This will immediately make your photos better, and, if you're so inclined, save you hours and hours of editing. 

In each of these photos there are unwanted "elements". James is walking behind Charlotte in the first image, and there are random electrical cords in the second. Pay attention to these so that you can avoid them in your photos!

Holiday Photography Tip 3:

Look for the DETAILS

The holidays are SO magical. But they are magical not because of the big things, but because of the little things. The details that pop up in our houses - the tree, the ornaments that hold so many stories and meaning, the light displays, the wreaths on doors etc. THESE are the details that make this season so special.

So when you're out and about, take some time to ZOOM IN, look for the details! You will discover truly magical moments.

Gorgeous neighbourhood details! Image by LPC Alumni Ramona Mills

Christmas details! Image by LPC Alumni Jana Gaffney

Christmas details! Image by LPC Alumni Stacy Rugh

Holiday Photography Tip 4:

Shutter Speed is EVERYTHING

Our days are short (well, at least they are here up in Canada). Add this to the fact that we LOVE photos of magical holiday lights, and you can quickly realize that most of our holiday photography takes place when the sun goes down. 

Photography is ALL about light, and taking photos when the sun goes down poses some problems for us as photographers. The key to remember is that you can fix almost ANY other photography problem in post processing except for ONE: 


This means that shutter speed is EVERYTHING. You MUST ensure that your shutter speed is fast enough to capture the crystal clear photos you're going for.

Here are some tips: 

  • If you're taking photos of people, you want your shutter speed to be AT LEAST 1/50th of a second. To do this, you can open your aperture (lower f.stop number), and increase your ISO (we suggest not going above 3200). 
  • If you are finding that your photos are still blurry, or your ISO is going above 3200, try finding a way to add more light! Add light using a flashlight, or move your subjects to a different location. 
  • Using a wide angle lens helps to add more light to your image, and gives you more flexibility with your shutter speed.
  • If you can, put your camera on a tripod. This allows you to take photos with much longer shutter speeds and still have them come out clear. This works brilliantly when you're taking photos of things that don't move (so NOT people - usually things like light displays). 
  • If none of these options fit - or you just can't get it to work - take a deep breath, and put your camera down. Enjoy the moment, soak it up using your eyes, and remember that the moments are the most important part of life - if you miss the photo, that's okay. 

Take photos of people where it is bright. Image by LPC Alumni Ramona Mills

Putting your subject under your tree (instead of in front of it) allows you to add more light! Photo by LPC Alumni Kristie Kennedy

Holiday Photography Tip 5:


Photography allows us to unleash our creativity, and the holiday season is no different! Allow your eyes to wander over the scene and look for interesting light to capture. Overhead lights, fireplaces, and dense concentration of lights all provide amazing opportunities to capture interesting and unique photo opportunities. 

Look up! Overhead lights often produce amazing photo opportunities. Photo by LPC Alumni Gail Dumaine

Fireplaces give off a gorgeous warm glow!

35mm : ISO 1000 : f1.4 : 1/50

Look for areas where lights are concentrated! Photo by LPC Alumni Tim Eerkes

Now get out there and have fun!

Don't forget to watch the video to check out the great questions and answers from our students at the end. And make sure you are part of our Learn Photography Community (it's free!) so that you can share your Holiday photos with us!!

Happy Holidays!

From everyone at Learn Photography Company!

Jana, Charlotte, James & Ayla all wish you a wonderful holiday break filled with love, good food, and so many hugs.

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