How many times have you taken family photos on Christmas day and they left you feeling disappointed, because  they are not magazine-worthy? The kids just want to open their presents and totally ignore your request to “look this way”, “smile”, “say cheese”. It doesn’t have to be this way. I focus on family photography and I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be frustrating at all. There’s a way to capture the real moments of joy as they happen in front of you.

How do you take better pictures even with your phone? Ready?

1.Look for the light. Light is the most important in the world of photography and without light, it’s impossible to take a photo, let alone a great one. Notice where the light is coming from. If it’s coming from a big window, then photograph areas of the room or parts of the face that are well lit. This usually means photographing with the light behind you or to the side of you. If the room is dark, try not to rely on the flash. nothing is worse than red eyes and harsh shadows behind your subjects. Open the curtains, turn on (and up) all the lights, including Christmas lights, and you can still get a great photo. It’s the mood and the moment you’re after. Don’t miss that!

2. Look for the expressions. Once you’ve found good light, timing your photograph is key. You want to look for good expressions. That doesn’t mean that you should be aiming to capture just one photograph, keep taking photos as the action develops. This will increase your odds of capturing the best expressions at the height of the action. You’ll be looking for that big smile, those ‘wow’ moments when they open their presents and you capture the joy on their faces.

3. Tell the story. Like with any good story, you need a beginning, middle and an end. Documenting Christmas Holidays is exactly the same. You can take photos of the presents under the tree to show the beginning, followed by unwrapping the presents and playing with them, the ornament decorations in progress. You get the idea, capture the day as it unfolds.

4. Before and after shots. This tip is more of a continuation of point 3. Before and after shots are great ways to tell a story. Presents under the tree before and after being wrapped; ornaments hanging and Christmas tree in its final glory or the process of making Christmas cookies.

5. Get wide and detail. Sometimes when you’re shooting away, you’re in a rhythm, you’ll find yourself taking photos that all look similar, they’re all from the same distance away from your subject. So this tip is to remind you to photograph the scene from a great distance, like setting the scene in your story, get lots of elements in the frame (but not too many that they become distracting). Then also get in close and capture little details as well. These could be the food, the special table cloth that only comes out at Christmas, that one present the kids wouldn’t put down that totally took you by surprise.

Bonus tip – While you’ll want to photograph throughout the day, you don’t need to have your camera constantly in your hand. Enjoy the day, be part of it and snap a few shots when the moment is right. Christmas Day is for spending it with family, so make sure you enjoy that family time as well.

Have a wonderful Christmas. I’d love to see your photos, so feel free to tag me in your posts so I can see your wonderful images.