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9 Tips For The Perfect Holiday Photo Shoot

By Whitney | Inspiration

The holidays are fast approaching, and this time of year is the perfect excuse to capture some amazing year-end portraits. It can be a really busy season, but scheduling some quality time with your family and your camera is a can’t-miss festivity. Make it a yearly tradition, you won’t regret it!

Whether you’re looking to get some fun shots for social media or taking photos for your Christmas cards, here are our best tips for nailing your holiday photo shoot:

Find The Perfect Location

Think of the places that have the most meaning to you or your family and let it be the backdrop for this year’s shoot. Great ideas for outdoorsy locations could be your favorite park, the Christmas tree lot, a hiking trail, or a picturesque field.

locations for holiday photos

You could also take more natural-looking photos on the streets of your city, in front of your favorite coffee shop, or even in your own home. Whatever location means the most for this specific year is ideal.

Invest In Some Handy Equipment

If you’re doing this photo shoot yourself instead of hiring a photographer, you’ll need some key equipment. For a really simple setup, a tripod is essential. That will allow you to stabilize the camera (even if it’s just your smartphone) and set the scene before you start capturing. You’ll be hands-free and ready to pose.

tips for holiday photo shoots

Another great piece of equipment is a wireless remote for your camera. Instead of setting a timer, you’ll be able to press the remote’s button to capture the shot when you’re ready.

Shoot At The Ideal Time

Lighting is everything in photography, and planning your photo shoot around the perfect light scenario will save you a lot of headache in the editing process. To make sure there's plenty of good light, schedule your photo shoot for a golden hour - an hour after the sun comes up or the hour before it goes down. These times are when the light is at it's most picturesque.

golden hour photography tips

Pro Tip: Want to enhance the sun in your photo? Try adding one of our realistic-looking Lens Flare effects! You'll mimic the look of a sun-drenched appearance in just a few clicks.

If you live in a sunny state, the harshest light is going to be broad daylight, where the shadows are the most evident. Not the best for portraits. If the day is overcast though, you'll get a big window of time for your shoot. Overcast skies diffuse the light naturally, so any time before the sun goes down will be ideal.

Bring Some Props

With the theme of your photo shoot in mind (if you have one!), think about the different props you could bring to accent it. If the theme of your photo shoot is truly Holiday, consider bringing along some mistletoe, reindeer ears for your pup, or plan to decorate a Christmas tree.

using props in photography ideas

Even if you don’t have a solid theme, simple things like a large picture frame (without a photo in it!), a handmade sign, blankets, or chairs could really add interest to the final photos.

Capture Personality

Some of the best captures are the candid ones, where individual personalities shine! We believe a photo that captures a crinkly-nosed laugh or a stolen kiss is loads better than a staged, stiff portrait.

how to capture personality in portrait photography

To best capture personality, have fun while you’re shooting and hit the capture button at random instead of counting down to the snap.

Embrace Bokeh

Taking your photos in front of a lit-up Christmas tree? When you focus on your subjects in the foreground, those Christmas lights will blur into beautiful bokeh in the background!

how to create bokeh effect in photography

If there’s any sort of light source in the background, even if it’s the sun shining through the trees, bokeh can happen whenever you focus on your subjects and blur the background. Try this look on your portraits for a hint of whimsy.

Want the look of bokeh but can’t capture the look with your camera? You can add Bokeh effects to your photos in BeFunky’s Photo Editor! Just head to the Textures tab, select the Bokeh category, and preview the effects on your photos. You’ll create a magical look in a single click!

Include Your Pets

Let’s be real, your pets are part of the family. Instead of leaving them at home on photo shoot day, bring them along.

tips for pet photography

They’ll lighten the mood for sure, and their presence will most likely lead to some awesome candid shots.

Think About Your Wardrobe

Sure, we’ve all seen the matching sweater photos - they make for great awkward family shots! But if that’s not the look you’re going for, plan outfits that compliment one another. That means if it’s a dressy shoot, you can’t have one person in sweatpants.

what to wear for holiday photo shoot

Choose colors that work well across the entire photo instead of letting everyone pick their own outfits, and choose clothing that best represents the vibe you’re going for.

Let It Snow

Is there snow on the forecast? Embrace it! It’ll make for magical holiday photography. If you want the look of snow but don’t have any inclement weather on the forecast, you can always add snow to photos with BeFunky! In the Effects tab under Winter, you’ll find photo effects that add a realistic-looking dusting of snow. It makes for a cozy, seasonal addition to your shots!

how to capture snow in photography

Ready to schedule your holiday photo sesh? With these tips in mind, plus the ease of BeFunky's Photo Editor, you're gonna get photos that you'll enjoy for years to come.

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified