I LOVE Christmastime. From the music, to the spirit of giving, the food (lots and lots of food), and the beautiful lights, there is so much to love and appreciate about the holidays. During a time of year when it is dark early, Christmas lights provide the light we so crave. They are also a perfect opportunity to photograph my children enjoying the magic of Christmas long after the sun has gone down.

However, photographing busy kids can be tricky, let alone when you’re doing it in low light. That’s why I’m providing you with some easy tips to help you capture magical photos by the Christmas Tree.

Turn off all lights besides the Christmas tree.

When it’s dark so early, it might seem like you need to turn on all the lights to make up for the lack of light. However, we want the Christmas tree to shine and be our only light source.

Lens:    Sigma 35 1.4 Art     ISO 4000, Shutter Speed: 1/100, Aperture: f/1.8

Lens: Sigma 35 1.4 Art

ISO 4000, Shutter Speed: 1/100, Aperture: f/1.8

Make it a fun.

Whether it’s eating a candy cane by the tree, singing Christmas Carols loudly, or even reading a favorite story, make it more about the fun and less about taking pictures. My kids favorite thing to do is play I-Spy with the ornaments. It’s a fun way to get them looking around the tree, keeping that light on their faces. They even play now on their own (even when I haven’t prompted them), giving me plenty of chances to capture them by the tree.

Lens:  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART    ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/2.0

Lens: Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/2.0

Experiment with Techniques and shoot from different angles.

Of course, get the obvious shot of everyone looking up at the tree. However, play around with different angles. Stand on a chair so shoot from above, or maybe sneak behind the tree to to capture that light on their faces, with the tree only in it a little bit. Even wait for your kids to move around the tree so they are on the side of the tree instead of between you and the tree.

Another fun thing to do is play around with different techniques. Free lensing creates gorgeous bokeh with the tree lights. (Please only try free lensing if you have had instruction). You could also try shooting through something, like special Christmas 3D glasses.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART  - Freelensed  ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture —-

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Freelensed

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture —-

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART  - Shot through 3D glasses  ISO: 5000, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/1.4

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART - Shot through 3D glasses

ISO: 5000, Shutter Speed: 1/160, Aperture: f/1.4

Get in the Frame

The Christmas tree provides a great opportunity for you to jump in the frame. Using some of the tips above you can keep the kids all snuggled up with you for a few self portraits.

Lens:  Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture: f/1.4

Lens: Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 2500, Shutter Speed: 1/60, Aperture: f/1.4

Photograph the tree during the day too.

We have our lights on all the time to soak up the Christmas season. As the kids play, having the tree in the background adds a bit of sparkle while helping tell the story of our holiday season.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART   ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 6/40, Aperture: f/2.0

Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART

ISO: 1600, Shutter Speed: 6/40, Aperture: f/2.0

In the end, just have fun with it and capture the magic that is the holiday season. I love the creative opportunity to capture my kids when the evenings are dark early. I cannot wait to see what you capture. Make sure you’re tagging #nlpshootandshare for a chance to be featured.

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