How to Improve your Christmas Morning Photos



The tree is lit, it’s 6am and it looks like everyone in the house has been “good” this year as Santa has left lots of goodies for your little ones under the tree. As everyone hurtles towards the living room and the wrapping paper starts flying, you reach for your camera only to find you haven’t charged the battery and the memory card is full. Or worse, you stick it in auto, the flash pops up and the atmosphere is killed in one second! Does this sound like a Christmas morning you’ve been through? Well I’m here to give you a few tips to make capturing the Christmas morning memories a little easier. (Sorry, I can’t help with the crazy kids!)

On Christmas Eve:

1. Charge your batteries – yes both your own and your camera’s. Make sure you are all set to go the morning of and have lots of room on your memory card for new photos.

2. Record the details when the kids are in bed. If possible, take the time to snap a few photos of Santa’s gifts, the stockings and his milk and cookies while the kiddos are all tucked up. These are the little details which will mean so much to you in years to come and are what add to the overall festiveness of the season. Also, take a peek at the kiddos asleep, and try to get a shot of them snoozing too. (Don’t forget to turn off your flash and raise your ISO for this one. The last thing you want is everyone awake at 1 am!)

On Christmas morning:

3. Get the room as brightly lit as possible. Prepare the room for the kids arrival by turning on some lights and lamps so that you are able to capture all those expressions without having to use flash.

4. Set your camera’s ISO high to cope with the low light — something like 1600 should be good, but go higher if you see your shutter speed slowing down. Then turn off your flash if it’s built in, or if you’re using an external flash, bounce it off the ceiling for a softer look.

5. Try to get in front of your kids when they walk into the room so you can capture that first squeal of excitement on camera. Also get down low to shoot from their perspective.

6. Use Night Portrait mode if you want to take some posed pictures in front of the tree. This is a “scene mode” available on most DSLRs and compact cameras and will allow you to get a nice shot of the tree lights and a correctly exposed kid sitting in front of it. This mode is best used when your subject is still. ( I know — I have never met a still 3 year old either.)

7. Above all, try to tell the story of YOUR Christmas morning. It doesn’t have to be “pinterest perfect” but capture those details that make your family’s traditions special and record the joy and delight on the kiddies faces.

8. Final step – Put your camera away and enjoy the festivities!


{Ingrid Owens is originally from Ireland but is now a Smyrna resident and blogs at CameraShy – Your Photo Tutor. She offers regular group photography workshops at the Smyrna Community Center and also teaches one-on-one classes all over the Atlanta Metro area. She’d love to help you too, so check out her website for more information, to book a class (next class is January 31), or get a gift certificate.}

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    A New Orleans girl turned Georgia peach and stay at home mom to 2 daughters. Before taking the leap into full time mothering, I worked at at an Atlanta-based advertising agency. I have lived in Smyrna for almost 10 years and am still not sure how I managed to find a job more chaotic and unpredictable than advertising.