One of the more important — and sentimental — holiday traditions is the family Christmas photo. Whether you want to print and snail mail a card or simply send an e-greeting to ring in the season, you want to make sure everyone looks their best. With smartphones, it’s no longer necessary to go to a studio to get the perfect shot. Instead, follow these easy tips for pro results you will treasure forever.
1. Make It Merry
Imagine you are working on a movie. Start with the set. Then consider the costumes. If you want to shoot indoors, DIY a cute backdrop: Write a holiday message on a chalkboard wall, paint or decorate a sheet, or simply place lights on a mantel. Cute props, such as letters spelling out “Peace,” “Hope,” or “Joy” purchased at a craft store, are an easy way to convey the spirit of the season. Consider going to a park where there’s a holiday display. And dress your family in coordinated clothing. (You don’t all have to wear antlers — simply choosing separates in similar colors will make a pretty photograph.)
2. Time It Right
If you want to capture an image outdoors, shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the most flattering light. If you need to shoot in the middle of the day, cloudy days are better than bright, sunny ones. And the hour just before the sky gets dark is the perfect time to capture a backdrop of festive outdoor lights.
3. Hold Steady
A tripod will give you the most stability for taking photos — and if you pair it with a remote release you can get in the shot, too. If you don’t have a tripod, steady yourself against a wall or a heavy piece of furniture and hold your breath when you press the button to take the photo.
4. Get Into Focus
Before you shoot your holiday photos, practice using the gridlines in your phone’s camera. In settings, you should have an option under “Camera” to add a grid. If you turn on this feature, lines will appear on your viewing screen. Make your focal point a place where the lines intersect — placing your subjects in these spots will lead to a more pleasing, professional composition.
Once you’ve decided on your shot, clean your smartphone’s lens. When you’re ready to go, tap the screen to focus, and remember to take lots of photos. Kids or pets can be difficult to catch at the right moment, so the more images you take, the more likely you’ll end up with a shot you really love.