Tips for Taking Better Holiday Photographs

One of my favourite holiday activities is pulling out the camera and aggravating friends and family, while taking a lot of bad photographs. This is one season when I really appreciate digital cameras. I take hundreds of pictures and with any luck, a couple of them turn out okay. Unfortunately, the good ones are pictures of the dog’s rump.

With a little planning and thought, it is easy to improve the quality of holiday photographs. Here are a few tips that can help:

These tips are aimed at point-and-shoot, entry-level cameras, or even a smartphone. However, if you have a more advanced camera some of these tips can apply, as well.

Indoor Photos:

  • When shooting indoors, experiment with turning your camera’s flash on and off for different results.
  • When taking pictures around the tree, turn off your flash to capture the twinkling lights. Use a tripod or support and the camera’s timer, to compensate for a slower shutter speed.
  • Avoid placing your subjects directly in front of a window as it causes excessive back-lighting.

Outdoor Photos:

  • Take photos before noon and after 4pm when the sun is not at its strongest.
  • Use your in-camera flash in daylight to counteract harsh lighting.
  • You can avoid shadows under the eyes and nose by using your flash during strong sunlight, neutralizing the light and balancing the exposure.
  • Take advantage of your camera’s scene modes, especially if it offers a setting for Beach and/or Snow.


  • When taking portraits, get as close as you can, physically or with your camera’s optical zoom lens.
  • To avoid red-eye, have your subject look directly at the nearest light source right before they look at the camera.

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