How to capture the perfect Christmas card photo

It’s that time of year again! Family and friends looking forward to receiving the annual holiday photo of the family, or at least the children to see how much they’ve grown and changed over the last year. But does gathering your brood in coordinating outfits and securing those precious moments sound like daunting task? Well there’s no reason to despair. We’ve called for expert advice! Photographer Silje Glefjell has let us in on the secrets: How to capture the perfect Christmas card photo.

These are my top ten tips for how to capture the perfect Christmas card photo:

1. If you’re like me, you might find it hard to photograph your own kids. The parent-child dynamic can sometimes get in the way and your kids are simply not going to be as indulgent of you as of someone they don’t know as well. If you have a friend or neighbour who’s nifty with the camera, it might be a good idea to ask them to help you out. If that’s not an option for you, please read on…

2. Good light is the single most important element of any photo. Turn off your flash, open your aperture as wide as it goes (f/1.4 in my case, but yours might be higher, depending on your lens. You want to have as small a number as you can, – towards f/1.4 rather than f/11), get outside, and find a nice spot in the shade. Avoid harsh midday light that gives hard shadows and gets in their eyes.

3. Get right in close and fill the frame with your subject(s).

4. Keep a good distance to the background, – this will take the background out of focus, removing any disturbing elements, leaving you instead with a creamy backdrop of fused colours.

5. Keep the same distance between each child and the camera to make sure everyone stays in focus. This is especially important if you widened up your aperture to anything wider than f/4. You want to keep their faces next to each other, not one behind the other.

6. Keep it light, fun and don’t drag it out. Be ready to go the minute you ask the kids to get in front of the camera.

7. Treats not threats! Reward them for their hard work. Threats are not nearly as effective as treats, – keep them thinking and talking about the ice cream they’re going to get for their efforts.

8. Get them to tell you a joke. They love to laugh at their own jokes!

9. Steady yourself, move your elbows close in towards your body, and hold the camera still to avoid camera shake and blurry pictures.

10. Take more pictures than you think you will need. It will increase your chance of getting some good ones. Don’t just snap away madly, though. Pay attention! If you see something in your viewfinder that doesn’t look right, take a moment to change it before you continue snapping.


Silje Glefjell is a Norwegian born, Houston based portrait photographer with international experience, specialising in location photography of children and families. See more of Silje’s work here: glefjell.com

5 Comments

  1. Hi Andreia. I will try capturing my girls too with a few new techniques. Let me know how you’ll get on! x

  2. Too cute with the stripes! Santa’s little helpers. ❤ Thanks for stopping by Little Scandinavian, Lise. 😊 Bianca x

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