4 min read

Creative Thanksgiving Day Photography Ideas

4 min read

Last updated:

Creative Thanksgiving Day Photography Ideas

Thanksgiving Day Photography

Thanksgiving is almost here and it’s time for turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It’s the start of the holiday season and Thanksgiving shopping madness is in full swing. Some of us will travel great distances, endure unbearably crowded airports, and sit in mind-numbing stall-and-crawl traffic. Eventually, we’ll reach our destination and enjoy a holiday with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a time for traditions like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or NFL football.

Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to capture picture-perfect holiday photos. With a little preparation and creativity, you can photograph once-in-a-lifetime memorable moments you’ll cherish forever. We put together a list of Creative Thanksgiving Day Photography Ideas to help you on your way.


Before the big day arrives, be sure your gear is ready to go.

  • Batteries – Start by recharging the camera battery. Be sure to pack the recharger and check the camera battery during the day. Also, buy plenty of extra batteries for your external flash
  • Cleaning – Next, clean all of your camera lenses using Lens Cleaning Paper. Don’t use a t-shirt or towels. Clean the camera sensor using a digital camera sensor cleaning kit. Be sure to follow the instructions.
  • Storage – Be sure you have plenty of memory cards. Start by off-loading old pictures to your computer, and backup drive, or a Cloud Photo Storage site. Instead of deleting photos, reformat your memory cards
  • Test Shots – Before gusts arrive and festivities begin, get a sense of the available and artificial light. Take plenty of test shots indoors and outdoors. Take shots using natural light and with the flash.

Have a Plan

Have you ever noticed that all of your holiday photos tend to look the same year after year? Taking the same types of family photos year after year can be a little boring, so this year try breaking the habit. Step outside your comfort zone and get creative! Search Pinterest or Google for thanksgiving photo ideas.

  • Tablescapes – Table arrangements can be very artistic. It’s been said that a beautiful presentation gives everything a little extra flavor. Photograph table decorations and creatively designed table arrangements before putting food on the table.
Thanksgiving Tablescape
  • Meal Preparation – Head into the kitchen and get some shots of the meal being prepared. Get a close-up of colorful vegetables, pie, salad, jello, potatoes, soup, etc.
  • Guest Arrivals – Capture the moment guests arrive. If you have a longer lens, shoot from a distance so you have candid images of hugs and kisses. Try and capture the joy and emotion when family and friends first greet each other.

  • Turkey Shots – No, we don’t mean pictures of your goofy uncle or taking shots of Wild Turkey. Try and get a few shots of the turkey fresh out of the oven before it’s carved. Ask the chef to kindly put the turkey on the table with the rest of the meal before everyone is seated. Then go take that picture of Uncle Weirdy and have a couple of shots if you’re so inclined!
  • Props – Look around for props and signs.
Children outdoors with turkey sign
  • Get a Good Seat – Try and sit towards the end of the table so you can get up quickly and get a few shots. Try and capture smiles, laughter and the spirit of the occasion.
  • Post Meal Coma  – After everyone has pigged out turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, and bread, your guests will most likely be in a coma. Don’t panic! This is a great time to grab your camera and get a few shots of grandpa passed out on the sofa.
  • Share the Camera – Don’t be afraid to pass the torch. Chances are there will be more than one amateur photographer in the room. Let someone else take photos for a while so you’re part of the memories.

Technical Suggestions

We’re keeping the technical recommendation list relatively short so you have time to eat, drink, and be merry. Don’t be afraid to use semi-automatic settings like aperture priority or shutter priority. Find the camera settings that work and enjoy these memorable times with your family and friends.

  • Semi-Auto Settings – Don’t spend too much time getting the perfect exposure.
  • White Balance – Use a smartphone app and set the correct white balance.
  • ISO – Take some test shots indoors without a flash and set your ISO accordingly.
  • JPEG & RAW – Shoot both JPEG and RAW if you can so you can correct exposure.
  • Tripod – Bring a tripod for group shots.
  • Flash – Try taking shots with and without a flash.

Share Your Photos

When the holiday is over and you have picked out the best shots, don’t forget to share your photos on social media or using a file sharing service!

Happy Thanksgiving

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