6 Fun Ideas for Your Christmas Photography

Christmas tries hard to be “the most wonderful time of the year”. The mix of family, friends, food, presents, lights, ornaments, trees, etc. can be a pretty wonderful combination, at least for photographers. You can take some unique photos during this season, but most of the Christmas spirit will only be around for a short while. So to make the most of your winter holidays, here’s a list with some fun ideas for Christmas photos.

1. Try out bokeh

If Christmas were a photography technique, it would be bokeh, a.k.a. “the art of blurring”. In bokeh you use a shallow depth of field to create an out-of-focus effect. The bokeh effect occurs more naturally when there are bright lights in the background. This is where Christmas comes in. The “season of lights” should give you plenty of opportunities to try out bokeh.

To learn more about creating a bokeh effect, you can check out our post on the basics of bokeh or these five quick tips on tuts+.

Kevin Dooley — Christmas tree bokeh
christmas tree bokeh

Derek Σωκράτης Finch — Bokeh of colors as you look by
christmas lights bokeh

Nana B Agyei — Stars On The Street
christmas stars bokeh

Kevin Dooley — Christmas #27
christmas lights bokeh

2. Get a tree

If you’d like to make an ordinary room look magical, add a Christmas tree. Photos of Christmas trees really capture the warm and fuzzy atmosphere of the season. Or, if you go the long-exposure route, you can make some spectacular pieces of abstract art.

JD Hancock — Merry Christmas 2013!
christmas trees

Lida — From my house to yours
christmas trees

Kevin Dooley — Christmas #25
long exposure of a christmas tree

3. Focus on details

Christmas comes with many interesting ornaments and details, so it’s worth paying attention to your surroundings. Using bokeh here will help you create powerful photos. Just focus on one small detail, while you blur the rest of the shot. Instant Christmas magic!

Mike McCune — Up Go the Lights III
christmas tree with lights

Glenn Waters — Christmas
christams snowman in globe

Y0$HlMl — Untitled
christmas tree ornament

Giuseppe Milo — Christmas bokeh
christmas jar with bokeh

4. Go out at night

Part of the Christmas spirit can be found in the streets at night. People, and your local government, go out of their way to decorate houses, trees and tourist sites with lights. As a photographer, you should express your gratitude by taking lots of memorable photos of these decorations.

Olin Gilbert — Merry Christmas from Chipley
Christmas lights outside

Osamu Kaneko — tokyo
Christmas decorations outside Tokyo

Carlos Andrés Reyes — Christmas alley
Christmas lights in an alley outside

Andrew E. Larsen — The Space Needle at Christmas
The Space Needle at Christmas

5. Take portraits of friends and family (or friendly-looking strangers)

In the end, what makes Christmas special is the time spent with family and friends. Portrait photography is a great way to capture this side of Christmas. Take photos outside in the snow, inside with the lights, or anywhere someone might be enjoying a small Christmas pleasure.

Tanner Smith — Had a little Christmas session.
Christmas portrait of a young girl

Steven Leonti — Sister Winter
christmas portrait young woman

Mike Kniec — An Irish Girl at the Christmas Market
portrait of irish woman at a christmas market

Drew Selby — Christmas Joy
christmas portrait of girl throwing snow

6. Shoot Santa

Christmas has one Very Important Person: Santa. Any self-respecting Christmas photographer should therefore try to get at least one good shot of Mr. Claus. If you have trouble finding Santa in a location near you, you could always try to work with a substitute model.

David Blackwell — Merry Christmas
group of santas

Robert Couse-Baker — on a bike named blitzen
santa on a bicycle

Bart Fields — Santa
blow up santa

richard — reluctant santa dog
dog with a santa hat