How to Photograph Christmas Morning

How to Photograph Christmas Morning

What can sometimes be the most chaotic morning of a family’s year also contains some of the most memorable moments. Emotions running high, the potential for magic in the eyes of the children is palpable and there are color, textures and lights galore. Need a few strategies and tips to photograph Christmas morning (or any other holiday that involves gift-giving/opening!)? Let’s get started:


Interval Timer Mode to Photograph Christmas Morning

If you haven’t found the Interval Timer Mode on your camera (if you’re Nikon… Canon users can purchase a remote that has Interval Timer, like this) you need to! The ITM is perfect for allowing the photographer in the family to participate in much of the morning and also be in some of the pictures. Here is a tutorial on ITM that I wrote for Clickinmoms and I would recommend using settings of approximately 50 x 2 x 1 min (50 sets of shots, 2 shots per set- to account for blinks, etc., 1 min apart) in order to capture a representation of the gift-opening time without creating an extremely overwhelming number of images to edit.

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The details matter.

At some point in the day, take your camera off of the tripod and walk around photographing details of the holiday celebration. Get in nice and close, or use composition creatively to highlight a specific aspect of your traditions. As I look back on the past few Christmases with my family, it is amazing to see how much the details change from year to year. Without the images to remind me, all of the years would likely fade into one blurred memory.

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Food deserves some attention, too.

Do you have food traditions that accompany your holiday celebrations? Make sure to include their preparation and final product presentation in your documentation of the day. Food shots help to add rich texture and detail to a set of images that record a holiday.

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Set the scene.

As with any set of storytelling images, including a few pulbacks of the larger scene really helps to establish sense of place in the viewer’s mind. While you photograph Christmas morning, go outside to take a photo of the house/building from outside. Step back and take a wide shot of the room where activity is happening. Shoot out through windows onto the scene that was visible outside of the location where the celebration took place.

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The day continues on.

Once the main events have concluded, remember to take a few pictures of what comes next. Kids engaged with new toys, Dads indulging in a post-lunch nap, family playing board games together, brothers cheering on their football team. Those moments round out the whole of the day and help to remind you of exactly how it felt to experience and photograph Christmas morning.

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What do you struggle with when photographing holidays? Let me know in the comments.



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  1. lottie

    29 November

    Love, LOVE this!! I have so much trouble with christmas day!! Also, we bought Bone for my dad a few birthdays ago and he and my brother have read it… oh, I don’t know, maybe eight times straight through? it’s the cutest thing. When they finish they just start over again! definitely a part of our family history!! (also I can’t help but notice the What If? book in the corner! love that one, too! xD)

    • MeganCieloha

      29 November

      Yes! Bone and What If were both favorite gifts for that kiddo in the picture. They tear him away from ravenously researching Minecraft for periods of time, now and then, which is a big win for broadening his interests :)

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