tips for holiday photos

5 Background Ideas For Holiday Portraits

The holidays are a wonderful time of year and a great time to take portraits of families, couples and children! You can take portraits of old customers or even find new customers while promoting your holiday mini-sessions or special deals. 

When you are taking holiday photos, you want to have fun, festive holiday themed backgrounds that work perfectly with the age of the people who you photographing. You can buy items to use in your background or as a prop that you can reuse year after year.  

Today, we want to share with you 5 background ideas we love that would be perfect for your holiday portraits. We hope these bring you a little inspiration for your own backgrounds for all the beautiful holiday portraits you will be taking throughout the season. 

What is more festive than a Christmas tree farm?!? Take photos of your clients in front of a few beautiful Christmas trees. Perhaps add some decorations to the tree or the snowflakes like in the photo below and bring a holiday blanket to sit on and you have created the perfect holiday scene! 

Photo credit: Sara Garcia Photo via Pinterest

Photo credit: Sara Garcia Photo via Pinterest

For a couple, just adding a cute Santa hat or a little garland can make it so festive and fun! 

Photo credit: Lauren McBride The Blog via  SnapKnot

Photo credit: Lauren McBride The Blog via SnapKnot

If you are photographing children, it is fun to include cute props like in this photo below. The boy is wearing a Santa hat, eating cookies and drinking milk... you can recreate this background so easily with just a few items and even by using some of your own Christmas decorations from home. The sky is the limit! 

Photo credit: Milk & Honey Photography

Photo credit: Milk & Honey Photography

Even a simple indoor set with a decoration or two and a Santa hat makes this sweet baby look festive! We love this simple design that still creates a beautiful holiday portrait. 

Photo credit: Milk & Honey Photography

Photo credit: Milk & Honey Photography

This is such a cute idea to wrap yourself in a string of holiday lights. This couple is snuggled up in their winter long johns! It is a good idea to have a few additional props on hand in case you feel like the photos you are snapping need a little more color or uniqueness and a string of lights is always something easy to bring along - just make sure they are battery operated if you are shooting outdoors! 

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

We hope these 5 background ideas for holiday portraits have brought you a little inspiration for prop, location and even pose ideas for all of the holiday portraits you are starting to take this holiday season. If you have any other great ideas, please feel free to share them with us in the comment below! Happy holidays everyone! 

Here are a few other holiday related posts you may enjoy:


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How To Take Awesome Photos Of Christmas Lights

The holidays are such a beautiful time of year! We just love the gorgeous decorations and the twinkling white and colored lights and everything else that makes Christmas so magical. Capturing beautiful photos of all the lights can be a challenge so today we wanted to share with you a few tips for taking awesome photos of Christmas lights.  

Whether you are in your town photographing beautiful holiday scenes around the city or simply capturing photos of your very own Christmas tree or house, we hope these tips help you capture beautiful ones! We hope each of you have a very happy holiday and be sure to share with us all your wonderful photos you take of beautiful Christmas lights. 

Photo credit: Huffington Post

Photo credit: Huffington Post


If you are photographing Christmas lights outside, be sure you do not wait until it is too dark. You want to make sure you find that perfect balance where the ambient light and and the Christmas lights balance themselves nicely. If you take your photos when it is completely dark outside, you will still be able to see the lights but the rest of the scene will be too dark to see clearly. 

If you are photographing lights indoors, try to dim the lights a bit so that the holiday lights stand out a bit more. 

Shutter Speed

Since it will be pretty dark when you are taking the photos, a slower shutter speed at around 1/4 second to 2 seconds or more will be needed. 

Be Steady

Because your shutter speed will be at a slower setting, your photos will more easily become blurred. It is important to use a tripod, or you must have a very still hand, to make sure that your photos come out clear.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Use Lower ISO Settings

It is most preferable to use lower ISO settings that are around ISO 100 or 200 for better picture quality. You will find that most cameras will begin to show digital "noise" and a decrease in color brightness if the ISO setting gets around 400 or above.  

Turn Off The Flash

Be sure to turn off your flash when you are taking photos of outdoor lights. If you are very close to the lights that you are photographing, it will most likely wash them out. 


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10 Tips For Better Holiday Photos

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year! The beautiful twinkling lights, festive Christmas trees, garland and candy canes galore also make wonderful backgrounds for holiday photos. There are also so many people who are getting engaged or saying "I do" during this time, which means most people are looking for a photographer to capture their special moments. Here are 10 tips for better holiday photos on that we just had to share!

1. Compose Creatively and Move In Close

Getting creative with your photos can never be bad! Pay special attention to how you organize all the various elements you have visible in each photo. Here are 2 concepts that you may love:

Off-center your main subject. Instead of having your main focus in the center of the photo, move the subject off to the side. This looks great if you can balance that subject with another object in the background (think Christmas trees???) A great example that they gave is if you are taking a photo of a candle. Place it on the right with the Christmas tree blurred softly into the background (or anything else that you prefer to use).

Move in close. It is good to move in close when your subject is in the center but also when you off-center it, moving in closely will be one thing that makes a huge difference in your picture taking success! The fact is that the audience is always more impressed with a subject in a photo that is impossible to miss. So make your subject fill up your frame.

2. For Better Family and Group Portraits

For family and group portraits, you must take a lot of photos. Photographers will find that many people in the group who are taking the photo tend to hate being photographed, so as a photographer, you need to try and make it fun and friendly. Taking as many photos as you can is important because with a big group, there is always someone who is blinking or looking the other way, so having many photos to choose from is the best way to catch each and every person at their best!

Photo credit:     Rebekah Westover Photography

3. Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

You have to be prepared when you trying to capture a wonderful moment. Maybe you are watching a child open a present… if you take time to ask questions, you will not be focused on the subject, and you could miss an amazing shot. You must be ready to take a photo at moments notice!

4. Do Not Use Flash Indoors

The flash can be a lifesaver, but the light from a flash tends to produce harsh, flat and cold light which is rarely complimentary to the subject you are photographing. Try having your subjects in the photo stand by a window to have a lot of natural light (but do not include the window in your photos as this will throw off your exposure meter). If you are shooting indoors at night time, try and find a room with as much light as possible. Use extra lamps if necessary.

5. Use Flash Outdoors

Flash can be a big help when it comes to shooting outdoors during the day. Even in bright sunlight, forcing your flash to fire can often mean the difference between an okay photo and an amazing masterpiece because having a flash outdoors during the day can help to even out harsh contrasts.

Photo credit:   Alissa Saylor Photography

6. Look for Reflections

Focus on capturing reflections rather than the object itself is a great way to add that artistic touch to your holiday photos! Interesting splashes of color, like those that reflect from colorful Christmas lights or holiday decorations may be perfect. If it is a rainy day, a puddle in the street could be great to use.

7. Blur, Swirl and Zoom the Christmas Lights

Most Christmas trees look the same, so why not try something new in your photos to give it that extra magic? Set your camera to a slower shutter speed (anywhere from 1/2 second to 2 or 4 full seconds) and then purposefully move the camera while taking the photo. The intention is to blur the colorful lights… but in order to blur a stationary subject, you must have a slow shutter speed and controlled camera movement.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

8. Give the Gift of a Photo

A family photo is a wonderful and perfect gift idea. Parents and grandparents LOVE family photos and what better time to give them than at Christmastime?

9. Plan Ahead

Just like any other time of year, always make sure your batteries are charged, you have enough film or space on your flash memory card. You would hate to begin shooting that huge family photo and realize you are not totally prepared!

10. Blue Snow Is No Fun!

If you photograph snowy outdoor scenes, most camera meters will be fooled into underexposing the photo. That will leave you with a bluish cast to your snow scene, rather than the beautiful white, bright snow you want.

To overcome this, use your camera’s exposure compensation feature or a manual exposure mode to force an addition 1 to 2 stops of light to reach your film or CCD. If you have a point and shoot camera or a compact digicam, your camera may not feature manual exposure but it will likely have the exposure compensation option.

We hope these tips for better holiday photos has been helpful to you! We hope you each have a very, merry Christmas! Happy photographing!


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