with Courtney Slazinik
Tips to Make Your Christmas Photos More than Snapshots
Lifestyle, Manual Mode

storytelling christmas photosIt’s so easy to get caught up in trying to capture the moment that we forget to take a few easy steps to click it up a notch from a snap shot to a fun and different photograph.

We are so busy during Christmas creating memories that we don’t want to miss a moment. This is especially true when capturing traditions. This year we decided to try out a new tradition – making a gingerbread house. Oh boy!

I wanted to share a few tips on how you can take your Christmas pictures from snapshots to lasting memorable photographs. These have all been said before but I thought it would be a nice reminder and easy resource for you to have them all in one spot. If you want more tips on how to take your photos from snapshots to lifestyle images check out our 30 day photo challenge, The Unexpected Everyday.

1. Shoot from different angles – I am guilty of standing in one spot and taking all the images. I have to constantly remind myself to move around. Don’t stop moving. Some angles will work and some won’t. However, you don’t know what will and what won’t if you don’t try! You can shoot from above, the side, behind, far away, and close up. For example, by shooting above in the picture below it just goes to show how little the kids are this year.

Notice the distracting knife and phone? I’ll touch on that in a minute.

2. Capture the details – If you want to make a collage of your photos for a photo book, it’s always a good idea to have a few detail shots. It is amazing how quickly you will forget the little things.
Do you notice the finger marks from a little girl who would prefer to eat the icing than to decorate the house?

3. Use natural light, if possible – I have to admit, making this gingerbread house took us two days. Not because it was hard or labor intensive but because we lost the sun. I know in the afternoons my dining room has pretty good light. We built the house and let it sit. My husband ran to the store but by the time he came home the sun had set. We decided to just wait another day and do it the next afternoon. This prevented me from having to bump up my ISO and I was able to use the natural light instead of my terribly ugly interior lights. I realize not everyone has this option. However, try to plan your activities accordingly and if you can do some with natural light give it a go!

4. Remove the distractions – I learned about this in my Shooting 301 Workshop through Clickin’ Moms. It is something that makes so much sense, I hit myself in the head when I read it. Of course!!! When I set up for something I know I’m going to be taking a lot of shots of, I try to look around the room and remove the distractions. I have a large family photo on one of the walls. After I took this shot, I realized it was distracting and removed it.

I also took the boxes sitting in the corner and threw them in the kitchen so you couldn’t see them.
Notice the distracting photo frame and my husband’s head?

When you are doing an activity like this sometimes parts of the activity can be distracting. Do you see the phone and knife in the image above where I took the photo above my girls? I quickly asked Ian to move those out of the frame. Then I was able to capture this one.

Check out the image below. Some how one random piece of candy was hanging out on the table and draws your eye to that instead of the gingerbread house or my daughters in the background?

It can easily be removed in Lightroom. Read how to use the spot removal tool in Lightroom.

5. Set your white balance. Listen, I have to be honest, I wasn’t always the best at this. I used to use the custom white balance method that I talked about a year ago. Then things changed and I discovered Kelvin for white balance. I’m no longer lazy when it comes to white balance because I use the Kelvin method. I get much better images SOOC which saves me time in editing. Who doesn’t want to save time editing?? You can read several different methods for white balance here.

As always, make sure you have a lens that will do what you need it to do to be able to capture the memory. I used my Tamron 18-270mm 3.5-6.3 for all of these.

If you liked this post, you don’t want to miss these other Christmas posts:
* 16 Tips to Photograph Christmas morning
* 5 steps on how to photograph Christmas lights
* Tips to make your Christmas photos more than snapshots
* How to create beams of Christmas lights
* Christmas Tree Lights Photos: 5 Easy Steps
* Christmas Tree Lights Bokeh

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Tamron.

  • December 23, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Great pointers! Thank you! I am working on white balance. I have been lazy about it. I’m going to go read that article you linked to. :)

  • December 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM

    Great advice! I am also trying to learn about white balance. I usually just keep changing it until I think I have the right color – not a good approach. I have made it a goal to learn all I can about white balance after the holidays. Or maybe during Christmas break when I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out what I learn. :)

  • Emily
    December 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Thanks for all the great tips/reminders!
    I recently found your website and I’m lovin’ it! I just read your photo essay post and loved it. It looks like you have tons of great info here. Thanks for taking the time to write this blog.
    PS–I LOVE your green wall!

    • December 24, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      Welcome! I’m so happy to hear you have found the tips useful! Thanks! I love the green walls too EXCEPT that it casts a greenish hint to my kids skin in photos…oops :O)

  • December 30, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Loved this post, Courtney!! Merry Christmas to you and Happy New Year!!

  • Natalie Kirby
    March 24, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Love this gorgeous pictures. thanks for the invaluable tips! Would love to know how you removed that piece of candy in LR.

  • Natalie Kirby
    March 24, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    THESE gorgeous pictures. Sorry I didn’t proof that.

  • December 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    These are great tips!! You can also remove that in picmonkey.. which is FREE!! :)

    • Courtney
      December 30, 2012 at 11:11 PM

      Thanks!! Yes, you can play around with it in PicMonkey :) Thanks!

  • Heather
    December 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    How do you remove things in Lightroom? I really need to take a class.

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