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32 Best Christmas Photoshoot Ideas

17 min read

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Christmas is right around the corner, which means it’s time for festive Christmas photoshoots. If you’re reading this article, you probably love this time of year and want to take the best photos possible.

Regardless of what genre you specialize in, you can add a Christmas atmosphere to your photographs and make them look extra special. If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help with our unique Christmas photo ideas.

Where to Take Christmas Photos?

An important aspect of Christmas photography is the location. If you pick the right location for your photoshoot, you might find it easier to take great photos of anything, be it your family or still life.

boy looking up at Christmas tree in a dark room.

1. Take Indoor Pictures In Your Living Room

If it’s too cold to go outside, you can still take a lot of beautiful pictures indoors. This includes group family photos, still life shots, and much more. For the best results, you might benefit from using a wide-angle lens with a full-frame camera. This will let you take wide and atmospheric photos, which is helpful in cramped locations. However, remember that this isn’t a necessity and that you can take fantastic photos with the gear that you already have.

Most people put up their Christmas trees in their living rooms. This is one of the best places to take photos in any light condition. If the light isn’t flattering, you can use a reflector or an additional source of light, like a lamp or a torch.

wide shot of a wide Christmas landscape.

2. In an Outdoor Location With Untouched Snow

Don’t take photos in busy places where the snow is dirty and wet. Try to find a simple location with untouched snow. You might need to travel outside of your town or city to find it, but it will be worth the effort. Untouched snow looks perfect in Christmas photographs and is the ideal outdoor setting for any kind of genre. If you want to make your annual holiday cards stand out, this is the place to go.

3. What to Wear to Your Christmas Photoshoot?

To make your Christmas card photos extra festive, you need to wear the right clothes. It’s okay if you’re not into ugly Christmas sweaters. (In my opinion, they look pretty cool in photos, but to each their own!) You can look cosy and fashionable by making a few simple changes to your everyday style.

Christmas portrait of a mother and daughter indoors with lots of props.

You can wear casual clothes. Sweaters and sweatpants are a great option for a comfy indoor photoshoot. If you want a classier option, try to dress up with Christmas colors incorporated into your outfit. Here are a few great ideas:

  • A red sweater or turtleneck with jeans
  • A burgundy sweater with a gray blazer
  • A black dress with red shoes
  • A very simple outfit with a Santa hat! (If you’re rushing and don’t have any other ideas.)

Creative Christmas Photo Ideas to Make Your Holidays More Festive

Want to infuse your photos with the festive spirit in a creative way? We’ve got the perfect Christmas photo ideas for you!

girl surrounded by Christmas lights.

4. Use Christmas Lights in the Dark

Christmas lights are the perfect kind of artificial light for creative Christmas photography. You can use them to take family photos, self-portraits, and close-up photos of your Christmas decorations. In the dark, they turn into a completely different tool. String lights in the dark are ideal for taking moody holiday photos that still have a festive twist.

Keep reading this article to find out how you can take sharp and eye-catching photos in the dark.

5. Use Lens Filters to Take Creative Christmas Bokeh Pictures

Lens filters are incredibly fun to work with, especially when you have lots of light sources. Some lens filters are used to darken landscapes on sunny days. Others, commonly referred to as bokeh filters, are used for more creative purposes, like turning bokeh into hearts or stars. You can order custom filters that will let you create bokeh shaped like ghosts, letters, or even animals. Lens filters like this tend to be pretty budget-friendly.

out of focus shot of heart bokeh on a Christmas tree.

Since you probably have a lot of Christmas lights at home, it’s safe to say that your bokeh filter won’t go to waste in December. You can use it to make backgrounds look more interesting or to simply photograph bokeh on its own. (Christmas photo ideas that involve festive props are usually great for family Christmas cards, for the record.)

6. Re-Create Old Christmas Family Photos

If you have a photo album of old family pictures taken during Christmastime, you can use them as inspiration for a new family photoshoot. You can add a modern twist to your photos or make them look as old as your references. The modern twist could be using different props or a completely different setup. You can also edit the photos differently. (Instead of using faded colors, you can increase the saturation in your images.)

vintage family photo of two women decorating a Christmas tree.

If you don’t have any old images taken during Christmas, you can start a new tradition in your home. Take a photo that you can re-create every year from now on. This is a long-term photo project that can make the holiday season even more pleasant than it already is!

7. Incorporate Classic Christmas Colors Into Your Pictures

Standard Christmas colors are red, green, gold, and white. Red and green are particularly important because they work so well together. They’re also not very difficult to find this time of year, especially indoors. A Christmas tree with red decorations. A green gift box with a red bow on top. Though simple, these colors can help you instantly create a Christmas feeling no matter where you go.

If you don’t want to go over the top with these colors, you can use them in details. For example, if you want to take a festive self-portrait, you don’t have to sit next to your Christmas tree in every shot. You can subtly incorporate a few key colors into your portrait using simple objects like decorationstinsel, or Christmas lights.

Outdoor Christmas Photoshoot Ideas

glittering Christmas ornament decoration hanging from a tree outdoors.

8. Photograph Christmas Tree Decorations in the Snow

A lot of standard Christmas photos feature decorations indoors. This is a great idea, but it can be improved with the help of snow! If you live in an area where there’s snow in December, you can take very festive photos of Christmas decorations outdoors in a natural setting.

All you need to do is decorate a beautiful tree in the snow. Garlandswreaths, and a few little ornaments are enough for this idea. You can decorate a tree and take a family photo in front of it. (This would make for a great family Christmas card photo!) Alternatively, you can take close-up photos of the ornaments hanging on the tree. The snowy scene will add a pleasant atmosphere to your pictures and give them an authentic wintery feel.

christmas photoshoot idea for families outdoors

9. Create Stunning Family Holiday Card Photos Outdoors

Here’s a Christmas card photo idea that you don’t want to miss! Instead of taking standard family photos indoors, take photos of your whole family in the great outdoors. As we mentioned earlier in this article, locations with untouched snow tend to look more appealing than places with dirty slush.

You can use the previous Christmas photo idea to make your photos stand out even more. Find a tree that you can decorate with beautiful ornaments. Take a group photo of your family standing next to the tree. You can also pose next to a snowman or a blackboard with the words Merry Christmas written on it.

This budget-friendly approach is the perfect solution for anyone who wants their next Christmas family photo to be unforgettable.

creative christmas photoshoot idea featuring snow

10. Document Outdoor Family Traditions

If you’re looking for Christmas card photo ideas that look natural, this idea is for you! Instead of asking each family member to look at the camera and smile, embrace spontaneity. Give your family something to do. This is very easy to achieve outdoors, especially if you have special family traditions like building a snowman.

You can ask your family to blow (fake) snow, make snow angels, or throw snowballs at one another. The more fun the activity, the easier it will be for you to capture authentic and candid moments.

Baby Christmas Photo Ideas

It’s your baby’s first Christmas, and you want to take photos that they’ll cherish forever. Here are some fun Christmas photo ideas that are easy and stress-free.

11. Take Self-Portraits with Your Baby in Front of a Festive Backdrop

There are many affordable Christmas-themed backdrops out there. If you’re short on time, you can simply stand in front of your Christmas tree. Even wearing a Santa hat is enough!

This Christmas photo idea is perfect for babies who don’t like being photographed on their own. If your child doesn’t like posing in front of the camera, consider taking photos of yourself while holding them. This will make them feel comfortable and give you plenty of opportunities to take heartwarming photos for your next family Christmas card.

Taking Christmas family photos like this doesn’t have to be difficult. Keep the following self-portrait tips in mind before you begin.

12. Use the Right Self-Portrait Equipment for Your Christmas Card Photos

Use a tripod that complements your height. Avoid shooting from very high or low angles. If your tripod is standing at an awkward angle, you’ll find it difficult to take portraits that look natural.

close-up shot of camera tripod standing outdoors

Additionally, use a timer or a remote to take photos without pressing your camera shutter. A remote is more comfortable if you’re holding a baby. It’s a worthy investment if you want to regularly take photos of your family.

13. Shoot at Eye Level

This is where a sturdy tripod comes in handy. Make sure your camera is almost on your level or a little higher. This will help you avoid unflattering angles.

Portraits taken at eye level tend to look more appealing, even if the model doesn’t make eye contact with the camera.

14. Interact With Your Baby

Keep your baby entertained. Talk in a cute voice, pull funny faces, or give them something to hold. You can also ask your family members to distract your child as you shoot. Keep in mind that your baby doesn’t need to look at the camera all the time.

mother holding newborn baby indoors

Interactions like this will create natural and candid moments. They will also help you have a fun family photoshoot that doesn’t end in tears and stress!

15. Take Photos Next to a Window

A window is your best friend in indoor self-portrait photography. Make sure there’s plenty of light. Cloudy or sunny days are perfect for indoor self-portraits.

If you feel that something is missing, reflect light off the window with the help of a reflector. Reflectors are cheap and portable. They can easily get rid of shadows in an indoor environment. You can also use a sheet of foil or a sheet of paper as an alternative. Make sure that your reflector faces the window. Light from the window should bounce off the reflector and end up on your face.

christmas photoshoot idea for creative baby photos

16. Avoid Using a Very Wide Aperture

Don’t use a very wide aperture, as it will focus on a small area and blur everything else out. A wide aperture is more suitable for individual portrait shots.

A more narrow aperture, such as f/2.8, will keep you and your baby in focus without highlighting too many details around you. If your photos look too dark, don’t be afraid to increase your ISO a little bit.

17. Regularly Change Your Poses and Facial Expressions

Experiment with different poses. Look down, interact with your baby, and use different facial expressions. Keep it light and fun! Even slightly changing your angle or location will make your photos look different.

Even if you’re a professional photographer, you might find it difficult to predict the outcome of your family photoshoot. Instead of trying to take full control over your shoot, focus on having a good time with your child. Don’t be afraid of trying something new, even if you’re not sure how it will look in your images. You might be pleasantly surprised!

baby wearing Christmas hat

18. Use a Variety of Christmas Props and Locations

You don’t want to take the same picture over and over again. Use different Christmas props to create unique family photos.

It might be difficult for you to hold your baby and another heavy object at the same time, so keep it light. Use tiny props, like a tiny Christmas tree or candy cane, to take festive family self-portraits with your baby.

sleepy Santa pose christmas photoshoot idea for newborn photography

19. Sleepy Santa

If you have a newborn baby who sleeps a lot, you don’t need to wake them up for your next family Christmas card photoshoot. Many popular newborn photographs feature sleeping babies wearing Santa hats.

You don’t need to limit yourself to costumes. Place different props around your baby as they sleep. These props can be Christmas tree ornaments or a tiny blackboard with a Christmas wish written on it.

Bonus tip: Shoot in silent mode, if possible, to avoid waking your baby up.

puppy sitting in a Christmas gift box under a mistletoe.

20. Use Random Props to Take Cute Christmas Photos of Newborn Babies and Pets

Christmastime comes with a lot of interesting and affordable little props. Some, like pretty gift boxes, seem to have only one use. However, if you look at it from a professional photographer’s standpoint, you’ll see that they can be very handy props for newborns and pet photoshoots.

For example, let’s say you have a medium-sized gift box that looks incredible on camera. Place that in front of a white backdrop (this can be a white wall), and you get something that mildly resembles a studio! Place a baby or a puppy in that box (safely), and you have everything you need for an adorable Christmas photo. You can enhance this with fake snowdecorations, or mistletoe. As you can see, you don’t need very much to have a successful Christmas shoot.

close-up of Christmas figurines during the golden hour.

21. Use Miniature Props to Create Your Own Christmas Fantasy World

When photographing figurines, you can use the largest aperture that your lens allows. This will blur the background and put the focus on the miniatures. If your background is too detailed, it might take the spotlight away from your subjects. Also, a large aperture is likely to create smooth bokeh in the background, which can enhance your composition.

Christmastime usually comes with a lot of cute miniatures. You can use these figurines to practice taking images of all kinds. You can take macro photos of little objects (extra points if you can create bokeh in the background!) that represent what this time of year means to you. There’s a lot you can do with still life, and it’s a great way to improve your technical skills as a photographer.

If you want to get your kids involved in photography, this is a great place to start. Since small children love toys, you can use this to introduce them to photography in a fun way. Children often have really creative ideas, so be open to collaborating with them and taking memorable pictures together.

Try Professional Christmas Lightroom Presets

car decorated with props and presets.

22. Take Black and White Photos

Many Christmas photos have a strong focus on colours. Why not try something new and take monochrome photos instead?

Black and white photography goes perfectly with touching family moments. Pictures of a child’s first Christmas, photos of the family decorating their home, and cute photos of family pets can all look even more stunning in black and white mode.

black and white close-up shot of Christmas toy

You can shoot in black and white or convert your photos to black and white in an editing program. We recommend the second option as it will give you more control of the tones in your images.

Family Christmas Photo Ideas – Indoor Edition

If you want to tell a story, take photographs over a specific period of time. This can be a few days or even a week. Focus on preparations for Christmas, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

During a time of celebration, a photo series can be significantly more powerful than a few random snapshots. Use a combination of artificial and natural light. Capture the family’s personality by photographing their traditions and facial expressions. Spend quality time with your models to get a clear sense of who they are.

Here are some more Christmas photoshoot ideas that will help you take unforgettable photos for your next holiday cards.

family Christmas photo indoors.

23. Take Candid Family Photos

If you’re shooting indoors, use a higher ISO. A large aperture (e.g., f/1.4) will create a pleasant background blur and allow more light into your lens. The larger the aperture, the easier it will be for you to take high-quality photos in low light conditions. Keep in mind that a large aperture will give you a very soft focus, which means your results won’t look very detailed.

Family group pictures can be a challenge, especially when there are children involved. While it’s possible to take stunning group photos, it’s not something you should pressure yourself to do during every family gathering. Instead, consider the alternative: candid images. (You might also be interested in taking posed candid photos.)

little boy interacting with Santa Claus

Candid photography can be much less stressful than posed photography. Your subjects don’t need to look directly into your lens. In fact, the point of this genre is for your models to be unaware of your presence. They should be lost in their own worlds, so much so that you’ll be able to capture their genuine expressions and movements.

How can you master this? If you’re a beginner, you can start with autofocus. Make sure nothing is blocking your lens so that it focuses on the right thing. If you’re up for a challenge, go with manual focus. The more you use it, the easier it will be to take pictures that are always sharp and clear.

24. Document Preparations for Christmas

wide shot of a baking tray filled with Christmas-themed cookies.

For many people, Christmas is all about spending quality time with friends and family. If you want to document this special time in your life, remember that you don’t need to focus on people only. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact in a photography portfolio (or in a Christmas photography card!)

The baking/cooking process is a great place to start because it’s inevitable in most family gatherings. Get creative. Take artistic photos of food and the process that makes it so beautiful. Experiment with different angles and layouts. Take pictures right above a table or from a very low angle. This exercise can help you improve your food photography skills, which is a nice bonus!

family decorating Christmas tree in the dark

25. Decorate your Christmas Tree

The perfect Christmas family photo includes the big picture and a variety of details. Take photos of the family as they decorate their tree. What are they wearing? What kind of expressions do they have on their faces?

Indoor lighting can be tricky to work with, but it’s not impossible to master. A Christmas tree that’s covered in lights is more than enough for visually appealing results.

If your indoor lights are too blue or yellow, manually adjust your colour temperature to create a balanced look in your shots. You can also fix this in an editing program later on, but it’s worth familiarising yourself with during the shooting process.

26. Take Photos on Christmas Morning

Photograph the entire family as they get ready to open their presents on Christmas morning. Even simple interactions between family members are worth capturing. Take note that this is the time before the gifts are opened.

What kind of breakfast did you have on that day? What were your family members wearing? Make sure to include candid group shots of the whole family. When you look back, you’ll realise that every little moment was special.

little girl preparing Christmas present next to Christmas tree

27. Document the Final Gift Reveal

This is one of the best moments to photograph during the holiday season. Use a fast shutter speed and a wide aperture to avoid taking blurry photographs. Make sure to take photos in a location where there’s a lot of artificial or natural light.

Make it a priority to focus on your family members’ reactions and interactions with one another. Even though gifts are fun, it’s the reactions that matter most. Don’t forget to put your camera down and be present during this special time, too. 🙂

wide view of Christmas tree indoors

28. Use a Wide-Angle Lens to Take Stunning Photos of Your Christmas Tree

A wide shot of your decorated family tree will make for a stunning photograph. Shoot vertically and use a narrow aperture to capture everything in detail. If your photos turn out blurry, use a tripod.

If you have a very tall Christmas tree that doesn’t fit into your frame, take a few steps back or use the Brenizer Method to stitch multiple photos together. (This is similar to what you’d do when creating a wide panoramic photo.) If you have a wide-angle lens, you’ll find it easier to take a wide photo of your tree in one shot.

Make sure to turn the lights off to reveal the full splendour of your lit up Christmas tree!

29. Take Detailed Photos of Holiday Decorations

Details are important just as important as the big picture. Twinkle lights, patterns on holiday outfits, and Christmas tree ornaments are all beautiful subjects worth adding to your Christmas photography portfolio.

You don’t need a macro lens to make the most of this Christmas photo idea. Get as close as you can to your subject. Use the widest aperture possible to separate your model from its background.

Christmas view from window

30. Capture the Beauty of Winter Wonderland From Your Window

If your part of the world experiences snow in the winter, take a few landscapes photos from your window. Use your window frame to add depth to your composition. Photos taken from an indoor perspective tend to look cozier than simple landscape shots.

Photos like this will tell a beautiful story about your day and give you an opportunity to improve your nature photography skills.

couple posing in Christmas costumes outdoors

31. Take Family Photos With Santa Hats

For the perfect family Christmas photo, make use of Santa hats. This is a fun and easy way to transform simple family photos into festive portraits. Every family member should wear a Santa hat.

If you have younger models or pets, have them wear miniature Santa hats. This will prevent discomfort and add a touch of cuteness to your images.

baby wearing Merry Christmas costume in front of Christmas tree

32. Play Dress Up

Playing dress up may be the perfect solution for uncomfortable photoshoots and camera shy family members. It’s likely that your models aren’t professionals. Instead of asking them to pose for you, provide them with holiday-themed props and costumes. This will add holiday cheer to your images and give your models something different to focus on.

You can distract your models with candy canes, a holiday wreath, or even a Christmas dinner. Create an atmosphere in which you’ll be able to take plenty of candid photos and create great family memories.

When it comes to dressing up, consider wearing matching Christmas suits to create visually aesthetic and festive images.

close-up shot of Christmas drink and Christmas cookies

Summary

These Christmas photo ideas will help you have fun with your loved ones and give you the opportunity to take outstanding photos for your Christmas cards. This is the perfect time to improve your photography and take your own family photos!

Try leaving your comfort zone for some of these ideas. If you don’t specialize in portrait photography, why not start now? Take photos of your family members just for fun. If you’ve never tried still life photography, take out a few figurines and work on your close-up photography skills. (You can even use your smartphone camera for this.)

Let this holiday season be an opportunity for you to start over both creatively and personally. Before you know it, you’ll have an incredible selection of Christmas photos that you and your family will cherish your whole lives.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
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