How to take the perfect holiday photos

Using these pro tips and tricks, you'll learn how to take beautiful holiday photos in a flash.

SnapDecisionsArticle Photo: iStock

Award-winning photographer and dad Roberto Caruso (he shoots almost all our covers!) knows a thing or two about getting great shots with your phone.

In the snow Get right up close to your kid, and fill the frame with his expression while he’s playing. If there is too much white snow filling up the shot, the camera might compensate, and your kid’s face will be shadowed. Try using HDR mode: The camera takes three photographs with a bright, medium and dark exposure and then merges them to produce one shot. This works well outside or anytime you are looking for that extra contrast.

At the holiday concert At the start, get up as close as you can (details are lost when you zoom in digitally), grab a few photos and then head back to your seat to enjoy the show. Don’t join the parent paparazzi—iPads blocking people’s views is not cool.

On Christmas morning  When the kids first see the tree with presents, take a time-lapse video composed of multiple photographs taken seconds apart. Most smartphones have this feature, or there are many time-lapse apps you can download. You’ll get the best shots near a window or in a bright area of the room (you want the light behind you), so keep that in mind when setting up your tree.

Opening gifts Don’t worry if your kid is not looking directly at the camera—try to capture the moment as it is. Take pictures of your kid’s hands, her feet wearing the new slippers, her half-eaten cookie, the decorations or anything that makes Christmas morning special to you. These small details will help tell the story in a photo album.

At the toboggan hill Try using burst mode,which takes multiple photos very fast. (It does take time to edit the images down, and the mode takes up lots of memory on your phone, so use this sparingly.)


At the dinner table Get up high, on a chair or sofa, and shoot down at the table. Make sure everyone is looking and no one has foodin their mouth. It’s always better to take a photograph at the start of a meal while the table is set, plates are clean and food is plentiful.

When your kids won't smile Wait for it. If you are setting up a shot, chances are a kid will not co-operate. Put the camera down, ask some funny questions, get her excited and then quickly grab the camera. You could also let your kid take pics of you making silly faces.

A version of this article appeared in our December 2015 issue with the headline, “Snap decisions,” p. 73.

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