How to Take Amazing Christmas Photos

By Geoff Harris

Here are five ways to get your best ever Christmas shots, images which you will hopefully enjoy all year round...

While the packed supermarkets, heaving shopping malls and congested traffic networks can try the patience of even the biggest Christmas fan, there is no doubt that this is a really magical time of year for the family photographer.

1) Embrace the crowds

Hopefully you have been very organised and done most of your Christmas shopping by now, but you can still head into town for some great street photography.

Cameos of bored husbands can make for entertaining shots, or try slowing down the shutter speed to convey the mass of rushing humanity.

Either use a tripod or support to keep the background sharp, or carefully support an image stabilised lens by bracing yourself against a tree or post.


2) Carol singers and choirs

If you have a fast, wide aperture lens and a camera that supports high ISOs, you can often get some lovely pictures of carol singers and choirs.

Flash is likely to be obtrusive, and may not be allowed at all in many churches, hence the need for fast aperture lenses; as for ISO, you can usually go as high as 1600 on most modern cameras without excess noise spoiling the shot.

Try to capture the singers in candlelight or lit by streetlights, and don't be afraid of close-ups.


3) Bokeh shots of baubles

Another neat Christmassy technique is to take a close up of an attractive Christmas tree bauble and then use a wide aperture to blur out the rest of the tree background and get nice 'bokeh' effects – Christmas tree lights can appear as attractive, colourful orbs.

Depending on your lens, try f/2.8 or f/3.5 and work from there, ensuring as much of the main bauble in the image as as sharp as possible, while the background is nicely blurred.


4) The calm before the storm

Make sure you get lots of shots of the decorated tree with the presents around it on Christmas eve. If you are shooting indoors, try a fast lens and a higher ISO rather than using 'straight on' camera flash.

If flash is unavoidable, try angling your flashgun and bouncing the light off a white or pale coloured wall or ceiling.


5) Festive food

Food photography is one of the fastest-growing genres in photography at the moment, so make sure you get lots of images of festive fare.

As well as nice close-ups of food on the table, give it context by including wine glasses and seasonal trimmings; images of cooks at work or people simply enjoying the food can make winning shots too.

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Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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