In five days, you will be celebrating your little ones' first Christmas. It is just one of 365 days in a year that you get to enjoy with your child, but without a doubt it is a special one.
Children add to the magic of Christmas
I speak from experience when I make that statement. You see, my husband - a kind and patient man - was once the Grinch of Christmas. But our three children have single-handedly changed his attitude towards all things Christmas. He still huffs and puffs occasionally, but there is no way he would miss a single moment or tradition including our family photo with Santa in our Christmas jumpers.
Photographs (and videos) are the only thing that will freeze a moment in time, and capture the memories and moments.
Here are some simple tips to get the best Christmas photos using your smartphone camera.
You don’t need a fancy camera, just your phone.
Clean the lens
Every parent's phone has fingerprints on the screen and the lens! It’s inevitable. A dirty lens will affect the quality of your photo making it look smudged or blurry. Make sure to check it throughout the day also, so you don't get caught out.
Tripods & Headphones
Make sure the photographer in your house isn’t forgotten, or avoid a shaky hand by using a tripod. You can purchase tripods at a reasonable price with a bluetooth remote. Or if your location allows it, you make a DIY tripod. Either way, say goodbye to awkward angles, double chins and your arm featuring in the foreground of your family selfie.
If you don’t have time to pick up a tripod - and you own an iPhone - you can set your phone up on a DIY tripod, and use your earphones (volume up button) to take a picture.
Remove clutter and distractions
I’m not suggesting a deep clean (that topic is covered in our blog on Tidy House, Tidy Mind) but clutter and distractions could set you up to fail by focusing on the wrong thing.
TIP: Remove the clutter and distractions so they don’t become the star of the show.
There are some apps that help you remove unwanted items (or people) from your photo but as a photographer friend once told me “it’s best to take the shot you want the first time because the less editing the better”. Thanks, Lisa! No one has time for detailed editing.
While we’re on the topic, the same goes for cropping. Get the framing right when you take the photo.
TIP: Don’t take all your photos using wide-angle with the intention to crop them later.
Angles Angles Angles …
Don't hold the camera at face height for every photo. Try taking photos at different heights, and angles. Lower your phone to your chest or hip, or change your perspective and get down low to capture the moment your child rips open their gift. Alternatively, you can also flip your phone upside-down to help change perspective.
Tip: When you change the angle, you alter the size of your subject, and it lets you use the light differently. You can even try taking photos from up high.
Frame your shot
I took a photography class once, and my teacher told me that framing is using elements from your scene to frame around the subject of your photo. You probably subconsciously do it already. But one example of framing might be if you lay your baby on the floor and surround him with Christmas paper. Or if you take a photo of you and your spouse both kissing your baby at the same time.
TIP: The aim is to draw the viewer's attention to your subject in an artistic way.
Tell a story
My favourite style of photography is documentary style because it tells a story. There is nothing I hate more than posey photos where everyone is forcing a smile, and saying "cheeeeeese". Look for details like Nana checking on the turkey in the oven, Gramps in his Santa hat, or Daddy wiping up the mess little Charlie made helping himself to the Christmas sweets.
TIP: The key to capturing people as naturally as possible is to make sure your phone is on silent so there is no shutter sound.
The Sentimental Detail
Photos jog our memories, so don’t forget to capture the small sentimental details like your favourite ornament, the handmade gifts from Aunty, the recipe for your cousin’s delicious Christmas cookies, the table setting, and of course anything that might capture baby’s 1st Christmas like her outfit, stockings filled with treats and wrapped gifts under the tree.
TIP: Better to take 20 photos now, and delete 19 of them later, than regret (or forget) the sentimental detail
Burst & Live mode
I am a huge fan of the burst mode because it always captures extra details as well as the winning shot. With this mode, you’re more likely to capture everyone looking at the camera at the same time. It’s a great option for when you’re trying to capture someone blowing out candles, or waving sparklers. Burst mode is your friend.
The live mode has given our family many a laugh, and it's a great feature. I know not all androids have this option, but there are apps available if you’re interested.
Turn off the flash
Yes, that’s right. Turn it off … even if it's getting a little dark. The most up-to-date smartphones will have night modes and automatic shutter speeds (make sure you hold still until the photo is taken) but if you need some extra light turn on a lamp, use someone else’s phone as a torch or even candlelight.
What is this night mode of which I speak? It is for low-light photography and it is your friend for taking photos outside with the lights or in the snow. It has a long shutter speed so make sure you hold steady for the photo, and don’t move until you see the photo is complete. Or, to avoid blurring your photos use a tripod.
You’ll find night mode on the new model smartphone.
Tip: The best time to take photos outside (with Christmas lights) is before sunrise or after sunset. Don't forget a tripod if you have one, and use your night mode which will slow down the shutter speed and capture the detail beautifully.
Cover image provided by Toddlekind
Other images (order of appearance):
- Jonathan Borba via Pexel
- Amar Preciado via Pexel
- @melissa.ferguson featuring TK Berber Prettier Puzzle play mat (Camel)
- Julia Volk via Pexel
- @civediamoacasa_ featuring TK Persian Prettier Puzzle play mat (Sand)
- William Fortunato via Pexel
- Nicole Michalou via Pexel
- @littleowain featuring Toddlekind’s play rug (stone)
- Bob SpringBob54 via Pexel
- Brigitte Tohm via Pexel