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9 Tips For The Perfect Holiday Photo Shoot

By Melanie Doncas | Inspiration

It can be hard to set aside time to capture beautiful photos of yourself or your loved ones. However, the end-of-year holidays provide the perfect period to settle down and create memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

So, how do you take good holiday photos? Whether you want to get some fun shots for social media or take eye-catching photos for your holiday cards, we’ve got you covered. From photoshoot preparation and perfect timing, to props and what you should wear; we explain all of this and more in the guide below!

How Do You Prepare for a Christmas Photo Shoot?

With the festive season just around the corner, you might be wondering exactly how you can prepare for your upcoming photo shoot. 

The first step is to gather your inspiration weeks in advance. Look to visual platforms such as Pinterest to begin curating a board of holiday photos that you love. You can even use BeFunky’s Collage Maker to create a mood board for your holiday photo shoot.

Then, consider if these images all have a common theme or style. For example, are they captured during the day or night? Do they feature bokeh heavily or a particular color palette? Do they take place at a particular location, such as in a pine tree forest or amongst a snowy backdrop?

Use these ideas to start planning how your own holiday photo shoot should look and feel. Once you’ve brainstormed the how, where, who, and why, it’s time to focus on when you’ll schedule your photo shoot to take place.

mood board holiday photo tips

When Should I Take My Holiday Photos?

There’s no hard and fast rule here, but ideally, you’ll want to take your holiday photos a few weeks before big events such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This not only gives you a bit more time in your schedule to get the photos captured before the silly season is in full swing, but also allows you to have these images edited to perfection in advance – something that’s especially important if you plan on using the photos on your Christmas card, for example.

holiday photo tips card text

How to Take Good Holiday Photos: Our Top 9 Tips

Now that you know all of the important details surrounding your upcoming photo shoot, it’s time to learn exactly how to take good holiday photos. Our top 9 tips below will ensure you create stunning festive images that you and your loved ones can admire for years to come.

1. Find the Perfect Location

Consider the locations that mean the most to you or your loved ones and use them as the backdrop for this year's festive photo session. Popular locations include snowy fields, the Christmas tree lot, city streets, your favorite café, or even within your own home.

Think about how you can use these backdrops to really set the scene for your shoot and tell a story. You can be as creative as you want; however, the more meaningful the location, the more effective your holiday photos will be!

location holiday photo tips

2. Invest in Some Handy Equipment

You'll need some key pieces of equipment if you plan on capturing the photo shoot yourself, rather than hiring a professional photographer. One basic, yet helpful piece of equipment you should consider is a tripod. That way, you'll be able to stabilize your camera or smartphone and establish your composition before you begin shooting.

A wireless remote for your camera is another useful piece of equipment. Instead of using a timer (and doing that awkward run back to the scene), you'll be able to snap the photo by pressing the remote's button when you're ready.

proper equipment holiday photo tips

3. Embrace Golden Hour

Lighting is everything in photography. Planning your photo shoot around the perfect light scenario won’t just give you mesmerizing photos, but it’ll also make the photo editing process a breeze. This is why professional photographers often schedule their photography sessions for golden hour – the hour directly before the sun rises or after it sets. This soft, warm lighting gives your images a golden glow, bathing your scene and subjects in lighting which is neither too dull, nor too harsh.

If you want to mimic this effect in your photo during the editing phase, you can use one of our Summer or Lens Flare Photo effects, available in the Photo Editor.

It’s also possible to shoot at other times during the day, but keep in mind that if you live in a sunny state, the harshest light is going to be broad daylight. This is when the shadows are the most evident, creating an unflattering imbalance in lighting.

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.

golden hour winter photo tips

4. Bring Some Props

You’ll also want to think about the different props you can bring to your photo shoot to highlight the theme you’re going for. For example, if your shoot aims to be as festive as possible, consider incorporating props such as mistletoe, sparklers, Christmas tree decorations, tinsel, reindeer ears, or anything else you want to feature within your photos.

If you want to keep your holiday photo shoot as simple as possible, even a mug of steaming cocoa or a handmade sign can take your images to the next level.

props for holiday photo tips

5. Keep it Candid

Some of the best captures are the candid ones, where individual personalities are allowed to shine. It can be tempting to pose stiffly or have your loved ones smile directly at the camera in anticipation of the shot, however the most effective images are ones where people have been captured having fun.

Direct your subjects to take part in an activity or action, such as a snowball fight, decorating a Christmas tree, or simply sharing a laugh. If you plan on being in the photos, use your wireless remote to shoot at random intervals while you’re enjoying a candid moment with those around you.

candid winter tips

6. Incorporate Bokeh

Bokeh is the effect produced when the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. It’s a staple in holiday photography, particularly when capturing photos in front of a light-adorned Christmas tree or on city streets at night. You’ll find that bokeh can be produced by focusing on your subjects and blurring the background when these light sources are present.

If you want the look of bokeh but can’t produce the effect with your camera, then 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. These textures help you create a magical look in a single click!

bokeh holiday photo tips

7. Include Your Pets

Pets are an integral part of the family, so instead of leaving them at home on photoshoot day, why not bring them along to partake in the photos? Not only will they lighten the mood, but having them at your photo shoot could lead to some heartfelt, candid moments captured on camera.

You could even take your holiday photo shoot to the next level by dressing up your pets in festive costumes. Matching sweaters anyone? It’s your photo shoot, so you can be as cute or as corny as you’d like!

pets for holiday photo tips

8. Plan Your Outfits

When planning a holiday photo shoot, outfits are often overlooked. Failing to coordinate your subject’s (or your own) wardrobe can result in images that are dull or out of balance, however.

Consider your photo shoot’s theme, and how your outfits can further convey this. Do you have a particular color scheme or pattern in mind? And how can your subject’s outfits be coordinated so that they complement, rather than clash, with one another?

holiday outfits holiday photo tips

9. Let It Snow

Nothing quite says festive photo shoots like the addition of snow. Therefore, if there’s snow on the forecast, we say embrace it! Whether it's snow-dusted trees or fields laden with thick snow, it’ll make for magical holiday photography.

If you want the look of snow in your photos but don’t have any inclement weather in the forecast, you can always add snow to your photos with BeFunky! In the Effects tab, our Winter category of photo effects adds a realistic-looking dusting of snow. It makes for a cozy and seasonal addition to your shots.

snow photos holiday photo tips

Bring Your Christmas Photo Shoot to Life

Now that you know how to plan and capture the perfect holiday photo shoot, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. Once you’ve finished shooting your festive images, you can then edit them to perfection using the helpful tools and features available in the Photo Editor - whether from your desktop or the BeFunky mobile app.

What stunning end-of-year photos will you create? Head to the Photo Editor to see how you can transform them in just a few clicks! 

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified