Tips for Taking Christmas Tree Photos

Is it just me or do you tend to go a little photo crazy around the holidays? There are beautiful decorations hung everywhere, family might be in town visiting and there is definitely more excitement in the air. My camera gets a lot more use around the holidays as it is such a special time of year and I want to make sure I document as much as possible for my daughter. She is only eighteen months old but already beginning to experience the wonder and magic of the Christmas season.

One focal piece of many of your Christmas photos is probably your Christmas tree! It makes a perfect back drop for family photos, Christmas morning shots and c’mon – your decorating skills should be documented! If you have ever wondered how to take great photos of your Christmas tree I am here to help! Here are some tips to get some great photos of your Christmas tree this holiday season.

Christmas Tree Photo Tips

Turn off the lights

Let your Christmas tree provide the light and turn off all the rest. It will stand out again the dark background of the room and really make the Christmas tree pop! Resist the temptation to use a flash and make sure you increase your ISO if necessary. You might need a longer-than-normal shutter speed in such dark conditions, so make sure you use a tripod or other stable surface to minimize camera shake.

Christmas Tree Photo Tips

Expose for the correct area

If you want to get some sweet shots of your little ones by the tree, make sure that you expose for the lights, and not your child. This will help create a glow on their face and lots of dark shadows. If you expose for your children you run the risk of having a too bright Christmas tree and losing all of the pretty details!

Christmas Tree Photo Tips White Balance


Play with the White Balance

You can either do this in your camera or post processing, but playing with the white balance can change the feel of your photos. If you make the photos slightly warmer (shown on the left) you get a warm, cozy feel. Especially great if your tree is next to a fire place! If you make the photos slightly cooler (shown on the right) you get more of a blue icy feel, which is perfect for cold, snowy winter days. Play around and see which you like best!

Christmas Tree Photo Tips Manual Focus

Change your Focus to Manual

If you want to get even more creative, change your focus to manual instead of auto. You can see all the different effects that I was able to get from turning the focus ring from the least to most in focus. You can create some really great festive images this way – and think of how pretty it would look with colored lights!

Christmas Tree Photo Tips

Use a Wide Aperture to get Light Bokah

Try opening your aperture as wide as you can (this was taken at f/2) to create lovely bokah from the Christmas lights. Opening up your aperture nice and wide will also allow you to use a lower ISO or high shutter speed as it will allow more light to the sensor.


Show us your favorite Christmas tree photos – we want to see them!

*all photos taken by Tracy Cepelak of Tracy Lynn Photography

About Tracy

Tracy is a children's photographer at Tracy Lynn Photography ( in Houston, TX. When she isn't behind the camera you can find her chasing around her one year old daughter, baking something sweet in the kitchen, and traveling as much as she can. She writes about her life as a mom at the mini traveling cupcake and traveling adventures at The Traveling Cupcake. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

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