With everything else that’s going on during the 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.  All 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.


It is worth trying to shoot in natural light where possible rather than using the flash on your camera. 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 children, I opened the curtains and blinds in our living room to let in as much light as possible. I also made sure they were sat on the couch instead of the floor so they had as much natural light falling on them as possible.

This way I was  able to photograph them without using the flash, resulting in much more natural-looking photos. Don’t you love this one above of my son waiting for Santa?!

I wanted to capture the joy that my children sometimes have together when they see each other, and my son LOOOVES to give really strong and squishy hugs. You gotta love these precious moments – those silly giggles and genuine smiles, aren’t they so precious??!!! And if I used the flat on camera flash, I would have ruined the mood and the natural feeling of the shot.

Sometimes you just won’t have any natural light at all – in this case, try and use the ambient light you have in your house….fairy lights from the tree, screen light from the TV/ipad/computer or a lamp.

If you know how to use your camera off auto, then please don’t be scared of using a high ISO. So many people seem to be scared of going above ISO 800, but I would much rather shoot at ISO 3200 and have some noise in my photo than use my flash. If this sounds like a foreign language to you, then you need to join me on the online course I am developing for busy parents in the new year.

This photo was taken after dark, just using the fairy lights from the Christmas tree to light my son’s face. A very challenging photo to take…my ISO was really really high and I also had to rest my camera on a sideboard to stop camera shake, but I managed to get it without a blur. Once again, the on camera flash would have ruined the magic of the moment.

With an entry-level camera you may not be able to take a shot like this just using fairy lights without getting camera shake. You may need to switch on other lights in the room if you want to take it without a flash.


Make sure you don’t forget to capture the details of the day. From the letter to Santa to the special presents your children have 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.

One of our family traditions is to decorate a ginger bread house, and my son LOVES this tradition, on this picture I captured him being silly running around his creation.


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. Use a tripod and the self-timer mode on your camera so that you could get in the photo yourself with your family.

Although these posed shots are not the most exciting photos to take, they are essential I think for the family album (plus the grandparents always love them!) And then once you’ve got it you can focus on getting lovely candid shots of everyone interacting indoors.

If you go outside during the golden hour – 1 hour before sunset you ‘ll have a chance to take magical pictures like this one with Christmas lights at the background. Very important – to get the beautiful bokeh (blurry background) like this one, move your subject further from the background – about 10 feet, come closer to your subject, and use the longest focal length lens possible. For example if you have a kit lens 18-55mm – zoom it all the way to 55mm. If your lens do not zoom, just come closer to your subject.


Make sure you take photos of the big present opening first.

Then make sure you take photos of your children playing with their toys. They’ll always remember those toys that meant so much and it will be so special for them (and you!) to have the moment captured when they first played with them.


Seriously – it NEVER looks natural!!! Ask your kids to say YES instead. For example tell your kids this: “Say YES if you want ice cream”

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.

san diego christmas pictures



And please do remember to put your camera down sometimes and just enjoy the moment as well!

I hope you have found these tips useful and inspiring, and that you capture lots of lovely memories from this holiday season.

Bye for now, and if you are interested to get more information about the online photography course for busy parents that I am developing – subscribe below to be notified when it’s ready.

Photographically yours,


Valentines Day

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