Tutorials |Tips for photographing Christmas decorations

HOW TO... Tips for photographing Christmas decorations

Discover how to set up your camera to take striking photos of your Christmas decorations


The hectic build-up to Christmas can get in the way of your photography but once the presents are bought and wrapped (and then unwrapped), the food is bought and cooked and the house tidied and decorated, you’ve got a bit of breathing space.

And what’s even better news is that you’ve just spent the last few weeks bringing fantastic photographic subjects into your house. Now is the time to reach for your camera – especially if Santa Claus has brought you a new one. Here are our best tips for photographing Christmas decorations.

Which lens for photographing Christmas decorations?

A macro lens is the ideal lens for shooting Christmas decorations as it will let you get close to very small subjects. If you’re using a compact camera, switch to the macro setting so you can focus when the subject is near the lens.

Smartphones usually allow you to photograph pretty close to your subject but there are also macro adaptors like the ExoLens Pro for iPhone that can help.

Which white balance setting to use for photographing Christmas decorations?

The lighting is likely to be mixed so the ideal option is to set a custom white balance setting, however, if you’re new to photography (or your camera) you may want use the automatic setting instead.

If possible, shoot raw files as these have more data than jpegs and you’ll have more success at adjusting white balance post-capture.

READ MORE: 10 Quick ways to Improve Colour in you Images

Christmas decorations

Exposure for photographing Christmas decorations

As light levels are generally low indoors around Christmas you’ll need to use a slow shutter speed or push the sensitivity (ISO) up. Naturally you’ll get the best quality images if you keep the sensitivity low, but you will probably need to use a tripod to avoid camera shake from spoiling your images.

When you go in close to a subject the depth of field (the sharp zone around the point of focus) becomes very shallow. You can combat this to an extent by using a small aperture, but when you get very close the sharp zone is really small and you need to be super careful with focusing.

The good news, however, is that the shallow depth of field throws up some attractive creative options. Try going in close to an ornament on your tree, for example, and have a few twinkling lights in the background.

READ MORE: How to Photograph Food this Christmas

Angel Christmas decoration

Potential subjects

If you’re stuck for inspiration, take a look at some of the Christmas cards that you’ve been sent. Lots of the tree decorations look good insitu, but you could also try arranging a few decorations into a little scene, or create a nice arrangement of lit candles.

READ MORE: Classic Christmas Photo ideas: what to shoot and how to shoot it

Christmas decorations

A little reflection on Christmas decorations

Lots of Christmas tree decorations are sparkly, which means they’re reflective and you need to keep an eye on what’s being reflected – you don’t want to see a pair of hands holding a camera. Try moving around until you find an angle that avoids the reflection. You could also try squirting a little hairspray on the decoration to give it a matt finish, but take care not to do this near a naked flame.

READ MORE: 9 Photo Techniques you can use Everyday


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