My top 5 tips for taking more than just snaps this Christmas

With everything else that’s going on during the Christmas holidays, it’s easy to not give much thought to taking photos, to grab your camera at the last minute and start snapping away. Then you look back at your photos afterwards and realise that they didn’t really capture the moment at all and you’ve ended up with just boring snapshots of your special time.

So, to help you avoid that, I have put together these 5 easy tips to ensure that you are taking photos that will remind you of the special memories in years to come, instead of just meaningless snapshots.


1. Take photos in natural light
If you are in the UK, then I know we don’t have a huge amount of natural light at this time of year! But it is worth trying to shoot in natural light where possible rather than using artificial lights in your house. If you know how to turn the flash off on your camera then please do….the direct flash on the camera never gives good results!

For these photos of my boys opening their stockings a few years ago, I opened the curtains and blinds in our bedroom to let in as much light as possible. I also made sure they were sat on the bed instead of the floor so they had as much natural light falling on them as I could. This meant that I was then able to photograph them without using the flash, resulting in much more natural-looking photos. (Don’t you just love the bed-head on my eldest son in the right hand photo!)

2. Capture the details
Make sure you don’t forget to capture the details of the day. From the letter to Santa to the special presents you’ve received. In 10 years time you’ll look back at the photos and smile when you remember all of the little things from that year that you would have otherwise forgotten.

Growing up we always had table presents, so everyone has a small gift on the table before eating lunch. I told my hubby about this tradition and asked him to keep a small present for me so I could have it on the table. I did laugh when I walked into the dining room a few years ago and saw this!
This photo still makes me smile whenever I look at it! Yet if I hadn’t taken a quick photo of my gigantic table present and put it in that year’s family album, I would no doubt have forgotten all about by now.


3. Take family photos outside
People always seem to try and get ‘the’ family photo with everyone sat round the Christmas table. But it never looks very natural does it?! Everyone sat there smiling uncomfortably with their Christmas hats on and their lunch in front of them. And you’ll end up with someone in focus at the front and everyone else tiny and blurred behind them.

A great solution to this is get everyone outside in the garden during daylight hours (or go for a nice walk) and take a photo of everyone together. Then you’ve got the more posed photo of everyone and you can focus on getting lovely candid shots of everyone interacting indoors (which leads nicely onto my next tip!)


4. Don’t say cheese
For those of you who have seen my free video training with my 8 secret tips to getting natural expressions in your family photos, you’ll know how I feel about the word ‘cheese’! It’s great to get a couple of posed photos with everyone smiling at the camera, but the rest of the time tell your family/friends to just ignore the camera and let you capture all of the special moments that happen naturally.

Do remember to put your camera down sometimes and just enjoy the moment as well!


5. Get in the picture
It’s all very well and good capturing all of these lovely moments of the people around you, but don’t forget to get in the photos yourself. In years to come you are going to want to see yourself in your family photos as well. If you want a group shot of your whole family, this is where a tripod or steady surface and the self-timer setting on your camera comes in very handy! Or just pass the camera over to someone else to take a photo of you.

I’ve got much better the last few years at getting in the photos with my boys, and now I have lots of great memories to look back on… this one of me and my boys in the snow from a few years ago.

I hope you have found these tips useful and that you capture lots of lovely memories from the holiday season. If you want to learn more and finally get to grips with that fancy camera, why not join me on one of my Photography for Parents workshops next year.

Merry Christmas to you and thank you so much to all of you for your support this year. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with lots more parents next year!



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Vicki Knights is one of the leading family photographers in the UK and started running her popular 'Photography for Parents' workshops in 2010 (the first of its kind in the UK!)  

Since then Vicki has developed a 'next stage' workshop, an online photography course for parentsa retreat for professional photographers and co-hosts a podcast for photographers. 


Do you struggle to get natural expressions in your family photos?

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