It’s that time of year again; the holidays are approaching, decorations are being put out, and it’s the perfect time for some adorable and memorable holiday photos. You have special outfits for the kids – and pets – all ready, your pumpkins and baubles are nicely decorating the house, and you can’t wait to capture special moments on camera. Before you begin, let’s make sure your photography skills are on point with these quick and easy tips.

Good lighting

This is always our #1 tip. It can be a little tricky getting lighting in holiday photos, especially if it’s early in the morning, but do everything you can. Open curtains, take photos outside, take the majority in the day time. If you have the added bonus of a large bay window, this can be the perfect location for opening presents shots.

Tips for Taking Better Holiday PhotosPhoto credit: Meg Brock

No flash

It doesn’t matter how good, bad or expensive your camera is, it’s unlikely that without a proper studio, a flash will look good. If you are able to, turn your camera’s flash off. Indoor photos taken using flash look too dark in the background, overexposed on the subject, and create a cold look to them. Use tip #1 and try and find natural light where you can.

Candids

There is nothing better than a natural look of glee as a child is opening a gift, an almost audible open-mouthed laugh, or joyful play in the leaves of fall. Good candid shots mean taking lots of photos, so get snapping!

Tips for Taking Better Holiday PhotosPhoto credit: Amy Gray Photography

Angles

Don’t fall into the old MySpace-style photos of impossibly high-angled photos. These can come off as posey and impersonal. Your holiday photos should include lots of ground- or eye-level shots, which really capture the mood. Whoever is in the photo should be at eye level, especially with kids or pets. The aim is to capture as many details of the subject as possible.

Posed family shots

Yes, tip #3 was about candid and natural shots, but of course you want a few family poses too! Use your decorated home as the perfect frame and background for your photos. Gather by the tree, in front of a large window for lots of light, or by the fireplace. Keep it casual with natural smiles and easy poses. You want your viewer to feel like part of the family too.

Tips for Taking Better Holiday PhotosPhoto credit: Christine Hopaluk

Subject in foreground

If you want your holiday photos to really pop, focus on the subject you are photographing. Don’t use up the photo with lots of background or white space, but get down to the level of the subject and really make them the focus. Keeping them off-center also looks more natural and has lots of impact. Play around with black and white, looking in the camera vs not looking, and different backgrounds like a plain wall, or decorations.

Little details

Don’t neglect the little details that make up the holiday. It may not seem important, but make sure you get snaps of decorations, food servings, and the tree. If you later decide to make an album or holiday card, these can be added to a collage effect, which will really make the holiday theme.

Tips for Taking Better Holiday PhotosPhoto credit: DK Design Studio

Frame your photo

Use your background to make your subject pop if you can. A large fireplace, a canopy of trees, or a picture-window can make great frames within your photos. These are especially great if they provide lots of light. Head outside and see what natural frames you can find, like this one:

Tips for Taking Better Holiday PhotosPhoto credit: Cool Mom Tech

Take tons!

This may seem like an awful lot to remember when you’re snapping away, so get lots of practice! The more you take, the better your eye will become. Getting a good candid shot often means 10 bad photos and 1 amazing one, so quantity is also key here. Get snapping!

Banner photo: Unique Design Studios