Part of Me Blog

how to get great photos of your kids by the christmas tree

PHOTOGRAPHYlissa-anglinComment
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I've been meaning to post this blog all month, but somehow I've waited until just 4 days before Christmas to sit down and write it! No time like the present. :)

It's something every mother battles with on Christmas morning. Those kids you love, the beautiful tree, wrapping paper flying through the air...makes us all want to stop the moments and capture it on camera.

However, the fast-moving kiddos, general darkness of winter, and tree lights that don't actually put off much light make it a pretty tough situation to photograph. So here are my tips (fancy camera or not- several of these are also helpful when using your iPhone) on how to get some great photos of your kiddos by the tree this year:

DURING THE DAY

1) Utilize natural light from a nearby window. Turn off all other light sources (except the tree lights). Open every window so that light will pour in!

Nikon D750, 35mm lens, 1.4 1/250, ISO 800- window on camera right

Nikon D750, 35mm lens, 1.4 1/250, ISO 800- window on camera right

2) Expose for the brightest part of their face- usually the cheekbone closest to the window. To do this on your iPhone, just touch that area and the exposure will adjust.

3) Set your camera’s white balance to incandescent (usually a lightbulb symbol).

Nikon D750, 35mm lens, 1.4 1/250, ISO 800- window to camera right. 

Nikon D750, 35mm lens, 1.4 1/250, ISO 800- window to camera right. 

Nikon D750, 35mm lens, 1.4 1/100, ISO 800- window behind, I had to turn down my shutter speed a bit here.

Nikon D750, 35mm lens, 1.4 1/100, ISO 800- window behind, I had to turn down my shutter speed a bit here.

4) Get LOW! Shooting from a low point means you get more lights and less floor, plus you’ll get a child’s perspective of the tree.

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5) Turn up your ISO. Being indoors means it’s likely darker. Start with an ISO of 800 and go up if necessary.

6) Be sure to use the lowest f-stop you can (2.8 is preferred) and a higher shutter speed (250 or higher, any lower and you will risk getting blurry images due to camera shake) to capture those wiggly kiddos!

7) Have them DO or HOLD something. Sing a Christmas carol, eat a candy cane, hold a present, look for their favorite ornament. Your photos will be more authentic this way.

8) Don’t expect to shoot for more than 10 minutes. Get your camera settings ready before pulling the kids into the shot. 

Nikon D750, 24-70mm lens, 2.8 1/100 ISO 3200- a high ISO is key here!

Nikon D750, 24-70mm lens, 2.8 1/100 ISO 3200- a high ISO is key here!

ONCE THE SUN HAS GONE DOWN

1) Follow directions above. You’ll likely need to raise your ISO even higher (1500+) to capture all the glory of the tree.

2) Utilizing only the tree lights (all others are off), position your kids to face toward the lights, thus lighting their faces. An easy way to do this is to tell the to find a red ornament.

3) Focus on their faces, and don’t overexpose. Your images will be darker in overall tone.

4) Shoot in RAW so you can bring the exposure up in editing!

5) If you’d like to have a photo with their backs to the tree, you’ll need another light source. Use a floor lamp with the shade off to the side of the kids (out of the frame) to add light. Or, if you have an external flash, set it to TTL and bounce it off the ceiling. You will need to raise your f-stop.

Nikon D750, 24-70mm lens, 2.8 1/100 ISO 3200- positioning the kids toward the tree is what makes this photo work.

Nikon D750, 24-70mm lens, 2.8 1/100 ISO 3200- positioning the kids toward the tree is what makes this photo work.

I'm running a little contest in my Moms Who Snap group for the best Christmas tree/kids photo-win a Starbucks gift card! Post your photo on Instagram, Facebook or in our group with the hashtag #mwsChristmasTree to enter!

If you're not in the group yet, come join in! It's a friendly place where you'll get encouragement and feedback from other mom-tographers and professionals.

Are you ready to take your camera game to the next level? Or have a fancy camera and just don't know how to use it? Check out my online camera courses!