Well, it is that time of year! (Well, almost.) Many families that celebrate Christmas enjoy putting up their Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. It was our family tradition as I was growing up. With Thanksgiving this week, I thought it was the perfect time to share some tips on how to photograph your family in front of the Christmas tree.

For the purpose of this tutorial, I’m going to give instructions to those who own a DSLR camera. If you are unsure of the difference, or are interested in more information about DSLRs, you can read my other post Here.

Let’s decide something right now. You’re going to practice taking these with a stuffed animal or other inanimate object before you dress up your children and make them sit as you work on settings. Nothing says, “Merry Christmas” like bored kids who would rather be building Legos.

So, meet Rudolph. He’s going to help me explain a few things.


Also, to keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the information, I’ve separated my three simple steps onto three separate pages. Just click through to the end. Your photo album with thank you!


The first thing we must discuss is lighting. If your tree happens to be next to a natural source of light, position your subjects in between the light and the tree. A natural source of light might be a large window or door. In the photos of my children, I opened our front door and let the light come from over my left shoulder. If you DO have a window or natural source of light, shut off all competing lights other than your tree.

If you do not have a natural source of light, try turning on only the lights that will be behind your camera (illuminating the faces of your subjects.) In the photos of Rudolph, the light comes from my kitchen behind me.

Repeat with me. I will not use my flash unless I want a bright tree with no haze or twinkle. We are only using available light for these photos. Our results will be a glowing tree and warm faces.

See how simple step one was?! Now do you see why there are so many repins of this thing?


OR! If you’re wanting a quick photography cheat sheet, click HERE!

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