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  • Writer's pictureJo Leeson

Photographing Children in Front of the Christmas Tree

Photographing children in front of the Christmas tree

Capturing the magic

I've spent years trying to photograph children in front of the Christmas tree. Or rather trying to photograph children in front of the Christmas tree well. Trying to capture those twinkly lights is difficult. It's so easy to over or under expose the photo and suddenly you've lost the magic you're trying to capture. But there are a few simple steps you can follow to improve your images. These tips are for those of you with a DLSR though. And you will need a tripod or something steady to stand the camera on.

Light the lights

If you're going to attempt to photograph your children in front of the Christmas tree, the first thing you need to have is light. And not light from your flash. Ideally, the light should be coming from behind you, as the photographer, illuminating the faces of your little ones. If there isn't much natural light coming in from a window, then turn on any light source you have to hand. But make sure it's behind you, or at the very least, between you and your child.

Set the camera

To photograph your children in front of the Christmas tree, switch your camera to Aperture Priority mode (A or Av). Doing this allows you to set the aperture whilst leaving the shutter speed settings for the camera to figure out. Aperture controls how much light enters the camera. Set it as wide (low number) as it will go. Take a test shot and if the images are too dark, increase your ISO until you get the effect you're after. Increasing the ISO also allows more light into the camera whilst helping you maintain the depth of field. This is that lovely blurry background you get with a wider aperture.

Grab your child

Place your child a good few feet in front of the Christmas tree, with the light (that's coming from behind you) shining onto their little face. Position yourself a further foot or two back from them. The beauty of the wide aperture is that it will focus on what is nearest to you, meaning your child will be lovely and sharp but that everything else will take on that beautiful blurriness we call bokeh.

Your ISO settings will depend on how much light you have but the aperture I used in the above image was f2.8.

If you prefer to have the tree in focus so you can see it in all it's glory, simply follow the steps above but close down your aperture (to a higher number). This will ensure that both your child and the tree are in focus. In these images, the aperture was f8.


I hope you find these tips on how to photograph children in front of the Christmas tree helpful. One you've mastered this, why don't you try the Magic Christmas Book Photo? I also have some other Christmas Photography Tips for you.

If you want to know more or would like to book a family photography session in Surrey, Sussex or Kent, please do get in touch. I'd love to hear from you.


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