christmas morning photo tips | family portrait photographer scottsdale

General, photo tips

the blog:

Friends and family always ask me how I photograph my kids around the holidays – especially on Christmas morning.  Here are a few tips:

  • Get as much light in the room as you can – turn up ambient lighting, open shades – we want to be able to use natural light – try to keep flash OFF!
  • Look at the scene – are there windows behind your tree?  If you shoot directly at the windows – your pictures will come out dark.  Move to the side, look for a better spot, find a good angle, change up angles
  • Be ready to push the shutter at a moments notice – we are looking to capture natural expressions on your children’s faces
  • Get down on the ground with them while they are opening presents
  • Shoot quickly and shoot often!  You don’t want to miss anything – you can edit later!
  • Don’t forget the detail shots – a beautiful ornament, a bow on a present – we can tell a beautiful story by including these pictures
  • Document the day – start the night before – take pictures of Santa’s cookies, the tree before the kids wake up (refer to my tips of photographing holiday lights), your children sleeping, stockings hanging on the mantle…
  • If your pictures are too blurry – then add a flash (only as a last resort!)

Here is a suggestion for an interesting shot of your kids opening up their gifts under the tree:  use a tripod, turn up ambient lighting, if flash is built into camera: turn flash off, use longer exposure setting (for those that have no idea what I’m referring to – like my wife!) set the dial on the big P: Program Mode, focus on the tree (your kids should be ripping open their gifts).  The result should be a great shot of your tree and children with motion blur!

Footnote:  these are general rules – all rules can be broken or depending on your experience level – interpreted in your own way or completely ignored!  This is one way – but not the only way!  Play around with what works for you and your camera!

blog posts



with us

For photos of our dogs and all sorts of inspiration, follow along at