No matter how you celebrate the holidays there is no better time for photos of your children enjoying the magic of the season. The holiday season is a highlight of the year for many families and offers a variety of memorable moments to capture on camera. I’ve put together a list of my favourite tips and tricks for photographing your children and family during this magical time!

children decorating a christmas tree

Family traditions

One of the things I love the most about the holiday season is the traditions we share with our boys.   Even before your child is old enough to participate in your family traditions you can still photograph them observing the special activities.  Whenever you can, move your activities close to the windows or patio doors (for natural light) during daylight.  Take photos from different perspectives (e.g., from the side, from above, close-up, of the whole scene).  This will ensure you capture all the details of the scene.  

Photos with family and friends

Over the holidays you will likely have a lot of family and friends visiting.  It can be an overwhelming time for kids of all ages as their routine is irregular and they are spending time with people they may not see on a regular basis.  Trying to get your children to look at the camera and smile for photos can quickly become stressful for you and your family.  Having favourite toys you can hold right over the top of your camera will help to get their attention but they also make great props you can give your child to play with.  Having family members and friends looking at your child as they play and explore are just as beautiful of memories as photos where everyone is looking at the camera.  

brothers looking at the Christmas tree

Taking photos of big groups

It can be tricky to get photos of everyone together at the holidays, especially when there isn’t enough space inside for the whole group to get together.  Here are a few suggestions for group photos that will ensure everyone is in the photo, with as little stress as possible:

  • Use a tripod indoors (for your phone or camera) to take a photo of everyone at the table but rather than having everyone look at the camera have people doing “cheers” or talking to one another.  Some cameras allow you to trigger a photo with an app on your phone or have the person closest to the camera use the timer / delay function.
  • If you want to take a photo of cousins together, consider giving them a gift they can unwrap together, a story book an older cousin can read, or enlist the help of your loudest and funniest family member to get their attention. 
  • The earlier you take your photos the better!  The more daylight you have, the easier it will be to take photos.  If you want a photo of everyone together, suggest heading outside.  You can get the grown ups posed outside before you bring out the kids so they don’t run out of patience.  Making sure that everyone is wearing sweaters & coats will help give you extra time to take the photos before the shivering starts!  Getting a photo where everyone looks at the camera is hard, especially with little kids, which is why I recommend an action shot or a photo where everyone is looking at another family member.  
child looking at ornaments on the tree

Use what you have on hand

Do you want to be in the photos with your kids but don’t have a tripod for your camera or phone?  Not a problem!  Prop your camera or phone up on a piece of furniture to get the shot you want and use the timer feature. Rather than taking dozens of photos where only one of you is looking at the camera, try a group hug, tickle fight, gift opening, or enjoying a gift together. Photographing an activity or action will make it easier to get photos where everyone looks happy.  The process is also a lot faster when you’re not worried about getting everyone’s attention on the camera.

teenager decorating the christmas tree

Bright lights

If you want to take photos of your child with holiday lights, candles, or other brightly lit decorations, focus on photos of them looking at the decorations rather than at the camera.  In low light situations you won’t be able to get a well lit photo of their face and the decorations without using your flash, which will reduce the glow of the lights.  Hiding a small toy into the lights or near the decorations you want to include in the photo, will help to focus their attention on the area where you want them to look.  A family member, standing just out of the frame, can also help to get their attention.