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Tips for Capturing Great Holiday Photos

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to capture great photos! Use these 7 holiday photo tips for beginners to ensure that the holiday photos you capture are frame-ready. With a basic understanding of the tips below, you’ll be able to snap professional-quality holiday photos that will provide a lifetime of memories.

Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners

Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners

1) Have a basic understanding of your camera

If you don’t understand the basics of your camera, there is a lot that can go wrong. Making a few minor changes to your camera’s settings can make a big difference in your holiday photos. Here is a great outline of the most important digital camera settings for beginners.

2) Turn off the flash

This may go against what your instinct tells you, but using the flash on your camera or smartphone can create images that appear flat, unnatural, or overexposed, or contain harsh and unwanted shadows. However, photographing in low light without a flash can be a challenge and can result in photos that are too dark, blurry, or grainy. Here are a few tips to photograph in low-light settings without a flash. This is a great holiday tip for beginners to master.

For example: 

  • Use other light sources (lamps, Christmas lights, candles, firelight, etc.)
  • Stabilize your camera with a tripod or by resting it on a table
  • Increase your camera’s ISO settings
  • Use slower shutter speeds
  • Shoot with a wide aperture
Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners

3) Use the Rule of Thirds

According to Digital Trends, the rule of thirds is a compositional “rule” that suggests dividing the image into thirds and placing the subject on one of the sides, instead of in the center. Like other rules in photography, the rule of thirds is meant only as a guideline — but more often than not, it helps create stronger images. This rule has become so popular that many digital cameras have an option to overlay the grid pattern over the viewfinder to help you line up the subject in compliance with the rule of thirds. The general guidelines are as follows:

  • If you’re photographing landscapes, you want to line up your view along a horizontal grid line. 
  • If you’re photographing people, you want to line up your subject along a vertical grid line.
Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners

4) Shoot from different angles

Get creative! No one says you have to shoot every photo straight on. Look for unique opportunities to position yourself and/or your camera at different angles. You’ll be surprised how different a photo can turn out by adjusting your perspective. Here are some fun examples of different angles you can use to give your photo a new perspective. This is a holiday photo tip for beginners that is so fun to experiment with!
Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners

5) Look for fun and candid moments

Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners
This really speaks for itself. Always have your camera ready to capture fun, funny, and candid moments that really showcase the mood of the moment. 

  • Shoot in burst mode. People are unpredictable and moments pass quickly. If you shoot in burst mode, you’re more likely to capture the moment you’re after, because you’ll be able to capture 10 frames per second!
  • Ask questions and engage with your subjects. In certain situations, you may need to be ready to engage with people to keep them loose and not focused on the camera. If your subject feels nervous about having the camera on them, you may have a hard time snapping the photo you’re after. 

6) Understand the depth of field

Know what you want to focus on! You can make a big impact on your holiday photos by altering your depth of field. “Stripped down to the simplest of terms, depth of field in photography is the area of a photograph that is in focus. A photograph can have a large depth of field where everything in the image is in focus or a shallow depth of field, where a specific subject is in focus and the background or foreground is blurred (most commonly the background).”

  • If you want to create a shallow depth of field, position your subject as far as possible away from background objects. When your subject is closer to the camera than the background objects are, your camera will automatically focus on the subject and blur the background, giving you a shallow depth of field. You can also adjust your camera setting to Portrait Mode for a similar result.
  • If you want to draw attention to everything in the photo, you want to capture a large depth of field, where both the foreground and background are in focus. To do this, you should position yourself away from the subject and background so your camera can focus on the entire scene, or you can also try to play with your camera settings. For example, you could switch your camera setting to Landscape Mode. 
Holiday Photo Tips for Beginners

7) Invest in equipment

Last but not least, it’s important to invest in some key pieces of essential gear to prepare you for all scenes and situations. 

  • Tripod
  • Remote shutter release
  • Different lenses 
  • SD memory cards
  • Camera-cleaning kit
We hope you have a great time capturing the magic of the holiday season with these holiday photo tips for beginners! If you’re interested in becoming more confident with your camera, Digital Workshop Center offers live digital photography classes, from beginner to advanced, with our instructor and local photography expert, Josh Hardin. As a digital photography school, we will teach you hands-on photography lessons the right way, and your instructor is always live. Whether you just bought that new DSLR camera or you are a seasoned user looking to find better ways to use your camera, photography lessons will help you become more productive and have more fun with your camera.

Interested in Photography Classes?