If you’re the designated family photographer when the big day rolls around, be prepared to take Christmas Day photos which are truly album worthy.
Christmas Day can go by in a bit of a blur, but there’s likely to be (at least) three times of the day where you might want to get the camera out. Here’s some quick tips to get you through the 25th with as little photographic stress as possible.
Present opening shots
If you have small children, the likelihood is that you’ll be opening presents in the reasonably early hours of Christmas morning. That can often mean photographing in the near dark, or under harsh artificial lights.
At some point before Christmas, set up your camera to best capture the moment rather than fiddling around with settings and missing the shot. Take a custom white balance reading (in the lighting conditions you expect the present opening to be happening), use a mid-high ISO, and a wide aperture to blur the background if you’re focusing on one individual.
You could also set up your camera on a tripod in a strategically located place, and with a reasonably wide angle lens (around 30mm equivalent) should do it, and a mid-range to narrow aperture (f/8-f/11) have the camera set to record a shot every few seconds. You may miss the moment on occasion, but it does leave you free to interact with the subject.
The best time to day to capture the family portrait on Christmas Day is after the frenzy of present opening, but before the gluttonous feast of Christmas dinner has begun. Try and find somebody happy to be photographed after over indulging and you could be faced with some very grumpy faces.
Ideally it will still be light when you get the camera out, as natural light tends to be much more flattering than artificial light. If it’s not bucketing down, you may even want to think about stepping outside into the fresh air to catch some shots.
For spontaneous shots, photograph children as they play with new toys, and older relatives as they talk to each other over a drink or mince pie.
Again you’ll probably want to use a mid-high ISO if you’re shooting indoors, such as ISO 800 and above, and wide apertures for isolating certain elements of your subject, such as the eyes.
Christmas dinner photography
Don’t be the bore who stops everyone from tucking into their turkey by insisting on taking hundreds upon hundreds of shots.
Work quick if you want to capture the Christmas food. Try a wide angle shot of table brimming with food, and then quickly move around the table to capture more abstract shots of individual plates. Shoot with a prime lens, a macro if you have it, to capture some frame-filling shots and use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field effect.
See our Christmas food photography tips for more ideas for festive food shots.