unrecognizable person taking photo of family dinner on smartphone

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.