I think we all want that perfect Christmas shot! The presents, the happy smiles, and the joy around the tree are always popular photo opportunities! I have been asked many times how to get that perfect look, and this is what I had in mind when I did a little comparison below! Some of my best tips for capturing the people you love around the Christmas tree are included below:
-Place your models 5-8 feet away from the tree. This makes for a sharper contrast and adds a bokeh effect with the beautiful lights! As you can see below, there is even a difference between the 5 ft mark, and the 8 ft mark, so pay close attention to which you desire as the finished result. Sitting someone close to the tree makes them blend into the background and creates a distracting image.
-Move yourself closer to your subject. Standing too far away can be just as detrimental, so scoot on up! You can use a 35mm lens if you are in a small room, or if the tree is in a corner. If you have the room to move around, an 85mm lens creates a beautiful and elegant look.
-Utilize a low F-stop setting: Using a 1.4 f-stop is ideal for a soft, pretty bokeh effect of the lights, but it may not work for action shots, or for those little ones who love moving around. You can also use an f-stop at 2, in order to get close to your subject and craft the perfect separation.
I may or may not have used one of Minya's toys, so you will have to forgive the fur on the reindeer! Minya (our dog) wouldn't stay still long enough to use a live model! I used a 50mm lens, with an f-stop set at 2. I also used a tripod, since the lighting was hampered by some cloudy weather.
Left photo - My subject is approximately 1 foot from the Christmas Tree. I am also photographing approximately 5 feet from the subject.
Right photo - My subject is approximately 5 feet from the Christmas tree. Bringing them closer to me (approximately 4 feet), and away from the background created larger bokeh and softer blur.
3rd photo - My subject is approximately 8 feet from the Christmas Tree. I am approximately 3.5 feet from the subject. I also lowered my tripod just a bit. This distance seems to create less distraction and more soft bokeh. This is my preferred distance!
As you can see, subtle changes that are easy (simply asking your subjects to step backward or forward), or changing your settings, can drastically change the look of your photo. I'd recommend practicing (yes, you can use some pet toys if you need to!) before the holiday, so you feel confident when your tree is lit, and the family is gathered. Stay tuned to our blog for more practical photo tips!