Tips for Taking Fantastic Holiday Family Photos

Dec 6, 2023Digital Photography

The holiday season is the time when special memories are created with loved ones. These joyous occasions when families gather together to celebrate provide the perfect opportunity to get a stunning family photo. These special moments should be captured on camera in a way that reflects the warm feelings of that point in time. When photographing your family consider the following tips for taking fantastic holiday family photos to achieve a stunning photo portrait.


Take lots of Photos:

The more family members you have, the more difficult it will be to get the perfect shot. To make sure no one has their eyes shut, is looking off to the side or wearing an awkward facial expression, you must take a lot of photos! To increase the likelihood that everyone will be looking close to perfect, you should have lots of photos to choose from.

Work Quickly:

People tend to get impatient during photo sessions. It takes patience and confidence to pose for a photo. Children especially get fidgety under the pressure of a photo session. To capture the perfect smile on a child is very difficult to begin with, and the more time passes the harder it will be. Be sure to have enthusiasm when standing behind the camera. Let your voice and compliments be uplifting to your models. Give them the confidence they need to shine, but work quickly and don’t take too much time making everything perfect. Sometimes the best shots are the very first ones!

Child making snow angel

Composition of Your Family Portrait:

The classic family portrait is an ever-popular choice when taking holiday family photos.  The photographer takes a straight on view of the subject. The less people in the frame, the more you can zoom in on faces. With larger families, the challenge is to fit everyone in the frame, so the positioning of each person is very important. The tallest people are positioned in middle back with their heights tapering off toward the left and right. The shorter individuals and children are usually positioned at the front of the frame. Everyone is either standing or sitting at an angle toward the center of the frame, creating a feeling of ‘closeness’ between the family. 

If you want to break out of the traditional mold, you can surely take a breathtaking photo by incorporating some spontaneity.  This opens up a variety of creative themes for your photo. Get all bundled up and take photos out in the snow! Get action shots of your family throwing snowballs or making snow angels. Grab some shots of choosing and cutting down the perfect tree!  Just make it fun and capture these fun moments you will always remember!


The key that makes or breaks a photo is lighting.  Christmas photos are typically taken in front of  Christmas trees or outside in the snow. If you want to capture the holiday spirit in your photos, use the Christmas tree as the backdrop for your family portraits. To achieve natural lighting on your subjects, turn off the flash. The absence of flash will dim the tree lights thus adding a warmer tone in color to the photograph. Create the effect of blurred lights in the background by placing your family several feet from the tree lights. This ensures the people are the focus of the frame but the lights behind them provide the most lovely backdrop.

Another great place to take holiday family photos is outside in the snow. If you are taking photos of the snow on an overcast or cloudy day a common outcome in your photograph will be snow with a blueish tint. When taking photos with a snowy backdrop be sure to apply exposure compensation or you may end up with dull, underexposed shots. Set the white balance to the setting for ‘flash’ instead of the automatic setting. This compensates for the slightly blue color of the snow and gives a more warm tone to the image.  As for the people in your photo, you will also achieve a warm lighted look just from the snowy background that surrounds them. Snow acts as a giant reflector and bounces off light which makes for a more softer and flattering color tone.


These are just a few of the tips for taking holiday family photos!  Hopefully,  you will get a shot for all to cherish. Families change and grow with time so it is important to document your family each year by taking family holiday portraits that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. At Canvas Giclee Printing our specialty is turning these portraits and memories into lasting canvas wall art. Contact us today to order your canvas photos online.