The holiday season's all about those cozy vibes, and what's cozier than a beautifully lit Christmas tree? Snapping pics of its sparkle and charm can be an awesome experience, especially when you dive into manual mode photography. So time to get started on How to get a great Christmas tree photo with your kids/family.
Manual Mode is Best
Manual mode is the best as it will give you total control from the aperture (F-Stop), shutter speed, ISO, to being able to adjust the white balance.
The Must-Have’s for Camera Settings
- Aperture (f-stop): Want dreamy background blur? Bring down the f-stop number (think f/1.8 or f/2.8) to let more light in. It's like magic for those twinkling lights and decorations. This really is one of those moments where a good lens makes all the difference because you want to be able to open up the aperture as much as possible to allow for more light.
- Shutter Speed: For the shutter, I recommend not going below 200ss; especially if you are capturing little ones. If you have a tripod, you *might* be able get by with going with a lower number (as the lower numbers allow for more light); but your subject would have to also be super still. Faster speeds (like 1/200s or up) are better at freezing the moment without causing blur.
- ISO: It's all about sensitivity to light. Higher ISO (like 800 or 1600) brightens but can bring in some grain. Aim for the lowest possible without losing quality. A lot of newer DSLR cameras are better about high ISO’s and less noise, but be prepared to at least have a little noise/grain.
- White Balance and Kelvin Mode: I don’t shoot in Kelvin Mode often; in fact, Christmas time is the only time where I shoot in Kelvin mode. I adjust the color temperatures between 2500K and 3500K, but definitely play with the settings on your camera. Here is a little idea of Kelvin Mode settings.
A Few More Helpful Tips
- Add more Christmas lights to your tree. I prefer white or warm lights on my tree and lots and lots of them.
- I usually have presents under the tree set up for pictures (even if they are empty, pretty boxes for the photo opt)
- Shoot in RAW mode, this will give you more flexibility in editing afterwards.
- Experiment with the settings on your camera.
Go beyond just the lights and decorations—snap the feels, the stories happening around the tree and all the little details. Get creative with angles and shots to tell your own holiday story.