6 Holly, Jolly Ways to Photograph Timeless Memories This Holiday Season


Holiday songs and jingles, decorative sights and sounds – holidays are here! It's been sung as the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for many reasons. The beautiful colors and soon-to-be memories of the season present a palette of holiday photography moments.

From city sidewalks, neighborhoods, decorated trees to festive reds and greens in nature, holiday photography ideas are all around us. So take a pause from the online, cyber and mall shopping. It's time to grab your camera and embrace the season.

For a little inspiration and encouragement of the happy holiday spirit, check out these traditional and not-so-traditional holiday images to get you started. We've included 1) Holiday Decorations, 2) Holiday Reflections, 3) City Sidewalks, 4) Warm Climate Cheer which sounds pretty nice right now as it is 28 degrees in Michigan with gray skies, 5) Winter Wonderland Scenes and not to be forgotten our 6) Friends, Family and Pets.

1. Holiday Decorations

Take a shot a creating a bokeh only image. This colorful, holiday light bokeh bouquet glows with vivid clean lines. The articles of 3 Simple Ideas to Create Bokeh and 6 Tips for Mastering Bokeh are good quick references on creating beautiful bokeh.

christmas lights
Photo by George

The Merry Christmas elf stands out against a soft white bokeh background. A photo of a single decoration can be just as festive as a slew of city lights.

Merry Christmas!
Photo by Nikos Koutoulas

2. Holiday Reflections

Holiday lights and nights are a perfect combination. Festive lights can be captured without a flash when using a fast, prime lens. Primes lenses work great as you have a big aperture to get the speed needed for clean night images. Here's a couple of articles on night photography and the 50mm prime that offer easy to use tips: Six ways to Make the Most of Night Time Photography and The 50mm 1.8 Prime Lens Review.

christmas lights
Photo by Alcino

3. City Sidewalks

Pick up your favorite walk around lens and go for a walk. If it's a “Baby It's Cold Outside” moment, bundle up and go anyway. Within moments you'll be in the photography mental zone and the chill will be an afterthought. There's always hot chocolate!

4. Warm Weather with Beautiful Holiday Color

Our friends in the Southern Hemisphere (New Zealand) took in a beautiful holiday scene that sparkles and shines at night.

Photo by Donna Rutherford

Mother nature decorates in holiday style all year long. In South America, who needs green and red decorations? Just go outside and find a brilliant green and red parrot.

Or, how about the red-eyed green tree frog who sports holiday colors that almost light up the night?

The lovely Christmas Cactus flower that blooms this time of year, brings living holiday color indoors and makes a beautiful macro.

Christmas cactus
Photo by Rosana Prada

5. Winter Wonderlands

While photographing the Aurora Borealis would be a wonderful gift, most of us don't live where it can be readily seen. That shouldn't stop you from taking advantage of your own winter wonderland – even if it may be green and warm where you are.

Aurora Borealis, the colored lights seen in the skies around the North Pole, the Northern Lights, from Bear Lake, Alaska, Beautiful Christmas Scene, Winter Star Filled Skies, Scenic Nature
Photo by Beverly

Frost fruits and berries are nature's living ornaments.

Joyeux Noël ! Merry Christmas ! :)
Photo by Anne Arnould

In addition to the reds and greens, take advantage of the “Blue Christmas” hues. The winter foliage below used a 70-300mm lens zoomed in making the weedy background and pond fade into a soft blue hue.

6. Family, Friends and Fur-kids

“Cobbler's kids are the last to get new shoes!” That same analogy could apply to photographers, it's easy to be so focused in our area of expertise that it's easy to forget to take photos of the ones that mean the most to us.

For them and you, be sure to use your talents to capture those special moments so that they can be visible for all for years to come.

It may be when your taking a break from the last minute shopping.

Christmas Lights
Photo by Steven Leonti

Or, it could be when your kids or your friends are home from college and you just capture the moment of being together.

Christmas girls
Photo by Mario Mancuso

Our fur children, both feline and canine are quick to steal the show when dressed in their own holiday attire.

Merry Woofmas!
Phoot by Ryan Ritchie

Whether your genre is portrait, street, abstract, nature or other – savoring and photographing the special times during the holidays will put those moments in a bottle to share for years to come.

All of us here are wishing our readers across the globe a safe, relaxing and joyful holiday season with your family and friends. Happy holidays and happy shooting!

About Author

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

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