Christmas Photography: What To Know & How To Nail it

Need a few Christmas photography tips to elevate your photography skills this season? Christmas brings home a sense of warmth, togetherness, and love and requires serious efforts to treasure these emotions in a timely fashion. It’s your story to tell, so pick up on all the details that catch your eye to narrate a musical, heartwarming one. And if you know how to truly capture the spirit of the season (we are talking beyond the Christmas tree and lights here!), you end up savoring all the moments and traditions that make Christmas the perfect family holiday.

Before we get started, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention right off the bat that Peerspace can provide you with stunning venues for your Christmas photoshoot. As the largest online marketplace for hourly venue rentals, our platform provides you with access to thousands of locations across the globe that complete your shoot.

With Peerspace, you can rent a cute Christmas-inspired cabin or a professional studio maxed out with equipment and backdrops. No matter what venue you choose, you’ll walk away with a portfolio filled with beautiful images! Especially once you have these Christmas photography tips in your back pocket …

Outdoor Christmas photography

Christmas photography
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Whether it’s a bright afternoon or a chilly evening, you can shoot some gorgeous Christmas photos outside. A beautiful blue sky with snow on the ground and some fir trees around make for a picturesque background. Also, it’s a good opportunity to take some action shots of a family playing in the snow or portraits of rosy-cheeked kids. Homes and shops with colorful lighting and props turn out to be excellent backdrops — make sure to seek these out. 

To capture the best of both worlds, shoot around late afternoon and towards sunset, so there is still enough ambient light to capture some color in the sky. And, of course, include some of those brightly lit Christmas lights.

This will help you achieve a happy medium between subtle darkness to bring out the vibrancy of the lights, just enough to show the details. If your outdoors is warm and sunny, use that natural light and add just one holiday-themed element to bring out the Christmas theme.

Looking for an adorable, pre-designed option that you can rent on Peerspace? Then you need to see this sweet suburban greenhouse studio in Shoreline, WA. It is a 10′ x 12′ outdoor glass studio that allows you to take advantage of natural light. Oh, and its adorable boho decor doesn’t hurt, either!

Get more inspiration by reading our creative outdoor Christmas photoshoot ideas guide!

Indoor Christmas photography

Christmas Gender Reveal Ideas
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People are really pumped about Christmas decorations, so it’s essential to click pictures that bring out this enthusiasm. Alternate between wide and close-up shots to capture the overall scene and details of the creative decorations.

For traditional family pictures, try your hand at faceless portraits too. It’s a perfect chance to take candid, in-between moments where your subject isn’t looking at you directly. Believe us. These spur-of-the-moment shots feel relatable and honest.

The holiday season is a time when everyone brings their fun and cheerful selves out. Step away from the classic smile into various camera poses and get up real close. Be alert and anticipate smiles. Switch your camera to burst mode (continuous shooting) to ensure you don’t miss a good shot.

To really document the mood of the festival, photograph objects that instantly remind viewers of Christmas — like the green and red wrapping paper, the silver plastic ornaments, the decked-out fireplace, and of course, the soft fabric of the woolen socks. This Carolina Beach home has the right idea. In fact, it boasts Christmas decor 365 days a year! Head there for all your indoor Christmas photography needs, no matter the season.

Our merry indoor Christmas photoshoot ideas offer more tips, tricks, and venue suggestions. Check it out!

Christmas photography: light it up

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Lighting is one of the most important parts of good pictures and can make or break them. Pay attention to the colors present around you. It is imperative to correctly set your white balance for wonderful white Christmas photography lighting with indoor Christmas lights. The higher the Kelvin number, the cooler the shots appear, but this differs for every house. If you are still learning your way around white balance, most cameras have efficient presets which will help balance out the colors.

If you need to use flash, be careful not to point the flash directly at the scene or your subjects. Your photographs could end up with harsh shadows in the background. Using a flash diffuser can help you avoid this issue. Don’t forget that you can bounce an external flash at the walls or ceiling. Also, to enhance your Christmas photography, play with different silhouettes to paint a cinematic picture.

Work your camera right 

miami instagrammable places
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You can start with ISO at around 400. If the images are too dark, you can go higher, but the higher you go, you will introduce more noise. However, on modern DSLRs, this isn’t as big of an issue as people sometimes make it out to be until pretty high ISOs. Try decreasing the shutter speed when the ISO goes up. 

The wider your aperture is, the more light it lets in. F/8 is a good starting point. This setting also helps create a nice mix of image sharpness and background blur with Christmas lights in the backdrop. You have to be very accurate with your focus at shallow depths of fields, but low apertures can really make your pictures pop out. When using aperture priority, make sure the automatic ISO is turned off.

You can either use a macro or an all-purpose wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens is great if you want to get the whole house into the picture. At the same time, macro is useful if you want your camera to focus on a particular subject.

Keeping your shutter speed low helps you keep your ISO low and create an image of higher quality as your camera is exposed to the light for a longer duration. For blinking lights, make sure that you increase your shutter speed to capture the full light cycle.

Reinventing bokeh

citrine home in the berkeley hills
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Bokeh is a purposeful blur that can bring a sparkling edge to your Christmas photography. A wide-open aperture is a must here. It will throw your background out of focus, and the lights will become luminous balls. You can make the balls look bigger by increasing the size between the subject and the lights. To obtain hexagonal patterns, close the aperture a bit.

Play around, and you will find something interesting to capture. Here, you can also think of a diptych to highlight complementary colors and angles. Also, change perspectives. Photographing at eye level constantly can make your picture look dull. 

Photographing Christmas lights can be a challenge. But our guide on doing so can make it easy!

Photography strategy

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This day goes by quickly, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of these special moments. Just don’t click pictures when people are smiling and posing. Shoot them while they are in the kitchen cooking, setting up the table, or hanging decorations. You never know when such ordinary moments turn out to be timeless photographs.

Christmas can be an overwhelming time to get burdened by too many scenes, subjects, and lights to get lost in. It’s important to find points of interest among all the hullabaloo. Try to work around a minimalistic approach and de-clutter your images. Don’t be afraid to get up close with your subjects. Fill your frame by either zooming in or moving closer. 

And the most important tip…

luxurious red rooms in DTLA
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Don’t forget to have fun! The more you live the day and experience every tradition firsthand, your pictures will feel more personal.

Whether you are shooting for a client or volunteering as a family photographer, remember to capture everything in a way that sets your work apart from the usual Christmas photographs.

A different angle, different color palettes, or different subjects could easily make your art stand out. While these tips will definitely help you achieve breathtaking images, you should ultimately trust your instincts and go for whatever works best for you in the moment.

Christmas photography: conclusion

Winter Photoshoot Ideas for Models
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We hope these Christmas photography tips will be useful for you this holiday season. Don’t forget; you can book a Peerspace venue that is already Christmas-y or that you can decorate with props and shoot. It’s a fun way to change your surroundings and challenge your skills.

Book an all-inclusive studio space with equipment, backdrops, and lighting included, or instead opt for a stylish home, lounge, warehouse, or dance hall to set up your Christmas photography. As you can see from this article, Peerspace has a lot of stunning options to choose from. And we’re in cities across the globe. So dust off those lenses and make your way to the perfect Christmas setting! 

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