How to photograph your children this Christmas with a phone or a compact camera?

Let’s face it – it is highly unlikely that you will put your phone away for Christmas. You will surely want to check the messages from your friends, send some kind words to your loved ones or simply take a photo of these important moments in your life.

It is also unlikely that you will book a photographer to spend this day with you as most photographers, like all other businesses, shut down for Christmas Day to relax and focus on their own families and their memories.

So you, mum, equipped with your smartphone will be most probably the one responsible for capturing some Christmas magic. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your equipment and create some precious snaps that you will love looking at next year, and the following year, and so on, and so on.

Don’t strive for perfection

It is not a paid gig. It is YOUR family time, so focusing too much on anything other than fun and your loved ones is certainly a recipe for ruined Christmas. Treat it as a way of capturing the events and emotions that you are also a part of. Simply an addition, not the meaning of the day. The moment your family sense you are going a bit over the top with the photos, the fun will start fading. You certainly don’t want that.

Focus on emotions and be an observer

Our brain forgets the details but remembers emotions. If you look back at the moments in your life that really mattered, you most probably remember very little detail but you can recall exactly how you felt. And that’s what matters. Try to capture the emotions that your family is experiencing – the excitement of waiting, the surprise at opening the gifts, the fun of playing with toys, trying on clothes etc. Don’t spoil the fun your kids are having by calling them to look at you. Let them focus, have fun and play.

photographing children at christmas

Try to find good light

Photography is drawing with light and good light is everything in photography. As much as possible use daylight and utilise the light coming through windows, skylights orif possible go outside. Smartphones and compact cameras hardly ever perform well with limited ambient light so don’t wait until it gets really dark. Brighter conditions are more likely to give you sharper images with more vibrant colours and that’s what you should be aiming for.

Don’t get too close – capture a scene

Step back and capture the whole scene, as many people as possible to paint a picture of the atmosphere, the surrounding and the vibe in the room. Try to tell a story with your image.

photographing children at christmas

Christmas Tree photo is a must

photographing children at christmas

What would Christmas be without a classic photo in front of a Christmas tree? I bet you have some in your family album, I do. Sit on the floor or in an armchair, smile, maybe grab a cup with hot chocolate and enjoy

No „Cheese’!

Please don’t tell your kids to say ‚cheese’. Instead ask them a question that is likely to cause them to give you a natural smile, for example ask them which was their favourite moment of the day, which gift they are going to play with first or anything else that you think will bring a lovely genuine smile to their face.

Presents, presents, presents.

Let’s be honest, kids love gifts. They love the anticipation, the excitment, the unwrapping and then the fun that follows. Make sure you capture that too.

photographing children at christmas

Be in the photos

Out of all my pieces of advice this one surely is the most imporant one. Please don’t be a photographer on the day. Be in the photos too. Speak to your partner, brother, friend or anyone else and ask them to include you in the photos. You can even ask your kids to take photos of you unwrapping the gifts and enjoying your gifts, once they have check out theirs.

Come on, everybody

Ok, just one. But do try to get a group photo, even if it meant that it is a selfie. Make sure all people are in the frame and you look happy and smiley. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, they say. For group shots and selfies again look for a bright(ish) spot, position the camera above your eye level and smile. Simple.

photographing children at christmas


And last but not least, relax and have fun yourself. 20 photos from the night will surely suffice. Focus on your loved ones, show them how happy you are to be with them so that the kids and your family can recall your face, not just the back of your phone (Guilty as charged, my family have pointed this out to me more than once. Don’t be like me, be smart 🙂

photographing children at christmas

Have a wonderful Christmas full of beautiful memories and images to treasure,


Aga x

All the images in this post are my own, taken with my phone and technically far from perfect. I strive for perfection daily when I work on my lovely client’s galleries so when I take my own I am less self-demanding 🙂 Please forgive me 😉 I do have a gallery of technically better images however I considered them a bit too personal for this post, again please forgive me.

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