Top Tips For Taking The Perfect Holiday Photo

FAMILY PHOTOThere is hardly a thing more treasured than a classic holiday photo of the children, but getting a good photo can often be a challenge.

While family and friends love seeing how your children have changed and grown from year to year and will treasure any holiday photo of the children, there are some simple tips you can put into practice that will position you to take the perfect holiday shot.

The Right Equipment

According to Sarah Jane Thornington, professional photographer and owner of The Studio by the Sea in Hyannis, Massachusetts (, while you don’t need any special equipment to take a great holiday photo, you do need to know how to use the equipment you have.  “If you want to take a photo with the fire roaring in the fireplace, the candles burning on the Menorah, or if you want to capture the twinkling lights of your tree or mantle, you really need to know what camera setting to use.” A bit of added advice; always figure out the setting you’ll use prior to getting the kids ready for your photo shoot. If you wait until your kids are ready to photograph to figure out which setting to use, your children will lose patience fast. 

What to Wear

“Simple is always best,” says Thornington. “Classic black velvet or velvet and plaid make for a timeless portrait.” She also cautions her clients to choose age appropriate clothing and to be cautious of overdoing accessories. “Although the festive headband may look adorable on your six month old, photographing a baby who is constantly trying to pull it off makes for a tough photo session.”

Choosing a Background

When selecting a background for holiday photos, classic and simple are again key. “Don't let the background become the focus of your photo. The focus of the photo should always be your children’s faces. A busy mantle with an over decorated hearth will never be as beautiful a background as just a few stockings hanging, a few fairy lights scattered, or a roaring fire” says Thornington.

The Number One Photo Killer

While waiting until the last minute to take holiday photos, telling the kids to say “cheese,” and shying away from taking candid photos are all rookie mistakes, none of these are the biggest mistake parents make when photographing their kids. The biggest mistake parents make when taking their children’s holiday photos is taking them at the wrong time. “Just because you've decided it’s time to take those holiday card photos, doesn’t mean it’s a good time to take them” says Thornington. If the kids are tired or hungry, dressing them up and forcing them to smile is a recipe for disaster.

 Capturing the perfect holiday photo is a whole lot easier when you plan and prepare in advance. While the pressure may be on to capture the perfect shot, the stress should be off. “Laugh and be silly and celebrate the finale with hot chocolate and cookies.” says Thornington.  “Make it fun for everyone.”