My tips for taking Christmas photos with children
How is Christmas less than a week away? I’m sure most of you have the decorations up and the shopping done. With this in mind I thought I would share my tips for getting some fab pictures for the photo album around this time of year.
Let me start by saying I am by no means a professional photographer (far from it) but I like to think I have got some pretty decent photos of Bella in front of the Christmas tree over the last few years, and let me tell you it has not been easy. There is always 50 rubbish photos to every shot that’s decent. So here are some tips on getting some great snaps.
Firstly this is very simple but think about what you are going to dress your little one in for the pictures. A fuchsia pink outfit is not going to sit well in a picture with a Christmas tree that’s decorated with some hints of red. Similarly a bright yellow top isn’t going to look particularly festive either. I apply this mindset whenever I’m taking photos, I wouldn’t try to create an autumnal vibe with leaves or pumpkins if Bella was in red.
2) Time of day
If you want to achieve a festive look and feel with tree lights you need to take your pictures later in the afternoon / evening. They are going to look shoddy if you shoot at 10am. You can of course create lovely pictures in the day but I’ll leave that to the professionals. If the light is a bit dull you can always brighten with other light sources, for example if I had of taken the picture of Bella (with the book) below at night I could have put an iPhone inside the book to light up Bella’s face - I say I could have, there was an iPhone playing Peppa pig in order to get her sitting still.
3) Invest in a lens
If you use an SLR and don’t yet have the equivalent of the canon 50mm lens I can’t recommend it enough. If you want to achieve the bokeh look (blurred lights in the background) this will do the trick and will create some gorgeous pictures of your little one Christmas time or not. Some of the best pictures I have taken have been with this lens (see below).
You can of course create this look with ‘portrait’ mode on the newer iPhones, it’s not as good as an SLR used properly but it’s good enough - especially for a smart phone.
Last year’s Christmas card (below) was shot with the lens mentioned above (ISO 400 ƒ/2.2) which resulted in the blurred tree in the background with Bella perfectly in focus.
3) Get inspired
Pinterest is always a great source of inspiration for me and has lots of great ideas, I have created this board if anyone fancies a look.
4) Don’t be afraid to use lights away from the tree
Lights alone can create a really festive feel, especially if you cant get your little one to sit in front of the tree for very long. I took the picture below of Bella really quickly when we were decorating the tree and I think it’s a lovely image and something a bit different to the traditional ‘sitting in front of the tree’ look.
You can also use lights to create some clever effects, like in the image above with Bella ‘reading’ in front of the tree. I put the end of the reindeer lights on the sofa next to Bella and then held the other end up over the top right of the camera. I positioned them in a way that Bella was still the focal point but they added some interest to an otherwise blank bottom right corner. I have to add you can only really get this effect with an SLR and the right lens.
Lights can be a great way to engage a baby or a toddler who is not yet able to sit or stand in front of the Christmas tree, see the picture below from Pinterest (click on images for link)
5) Think about other props
This years Christmas card was made possible using a gingerbread house kit that a kind friend gave us. After Bella and I made it (who am I kidding I was a control freak and she ate the sweets) I put it on a low table in front of the tree and said she could put the last few sweets on…ta da I got the shot (well about 30 and one was decent enough to use).
6) Get them involved
A great time to get pictures is when decorating the tree, I’m sure you remember how exciting it was as a child and such a novelty. I got the image below when I gave Bella her own set of Nativity decorations and she added them to the tree.
7) Use apps
Very few photographers will use images straight off camera and will generally do some editing of some sort. You can download Lightroom for free onto your phone which is a great programme to use for editing light, contrast, exposure, sharpness, etc. Just have a play about to see what you like.
If you don’t have an SLR or an iPhone with ‘portrait’ mode there are ways to create the blurred background effect. My friend introduced me to ‘Focuseffect’ where you can select areas of an image to keep in focus while blurring the rest. It can be time consuming and I think a professional would probably spot it a mile off but most people wont notice. I used it on the image above to blur out the tree slightly.
Happy snapping! I always use a photo I’ve taken for our Christmas card, this year I have used the image right at the top with the gingerbread house - thanks to our friends who have already received theirs and messaged, makes the effort worth the while!
Next year I want to try and create the below with Bella’s cosy coupe! Just need a shed load of snow!