How to take photos by the Christmas tree

Christmas is such a magical time of year. The anticipation of Santa Claus, baking numerous batches of Christmas cookies, driving around to look at all the lights, Elf on the Shelf… It’s a time of year full of traditions. Maybe it’s time to add a new tradition into the mix – taking pictures of your kids by the Christmas tree! Add a little sparkle while seeing how much they’ve grown year after year. It’s a little trickier than it seems, so here are a few tips on how to take pictures by the Christmas Tree.

HARLAN XMAS -0610 HARLAN XMAS -0599 Your tree is trimmed and it’s gorgeous. It’s the perfect “backdrop.” But, before you bring your kids into the room, take a few practice shots to make sure the settings on your camera are correct. It’s a perfect time to move a couch or coffee table out of the way, too. These may seem like pretty minor things to pay attention to, but they are major details. The window of opportunity is pretty small with little ones and pictures, so it’s best to have these things taken care of before you tell them to say cheese.

One of my favorite things about Christmastime is all the lights. I love Christmas lights. They add so much to the atmosphere, but they don’t always give off enough light…unless you’re Clark Griswold. If your pictures are turning out a little too dark, turn on a lamp. It probably won’t give off the magical vibe you were hoping for, but you might need to show grandma how her grandchildren look in the holiday outfits she sent them. In this case, grandma’s happiness trumps the magical glow. If you do want that magical glow from the twinkling lights, it may be too dark to see the faces of your little ones if they are looking at the camera. In this case, I suggest trying for some “action” shots. Ask them to put tinsel on the tree. Ask them to look for their favorite ornament. By having your children do something, it will show the warm glow of the lights on their faces as well as their excitement and wonder of the season. Have them wear Christmas pajamas for extra cuteness.

If you want the blurry Christmas lights background for your pictures, you can do this in a couple of ways. One way is to adjust the aperture on your camera. I suggest checking out your camera’s manual to see how to change this and then set your aperture to the lowest number possible. Your lens may be different than mine, so while my setting is at f/1.8, your lowest setting could be f/3.5. Once your aperture is set, focus on your child’s eyes. Your little ones will be in focus while the background will be blurry. (Using a wide aperture (low number) will make anything you are not focusing on blurry.) Another way to achieve the blurry lights look is to create some distance between your Christmas Tree and your children. Having them step a few feet away from the tree will blur out the Christmas lights. If your room is large enough, have them step away as far as they can while you still have them and the tree in the picture.

Taking pictures by the Christmas tree is a great way to add in a little magic to family pictures. I hope these tips help make this a new tradition for you and your family.

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