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How to capture the best family moments this Christmas

Use the festive period to take some new family portraits

This time of year is the ideal opportunity to capture your precious family moments - everybody's together and, hopefully in the festive spirit and ready to be photographed. As a photographer, you'll often find you're in charge of the family photos - but it can be a tricky task to get right. Here's some simple tips to ensure your festive portraits are really special this year.

1. Choose the best location in your home

If you're going to take some posed portraiture, pay special attention to where you are in your house - and what might appear in the background of your shot. For the most festive shots, try and include the Christmas tree, for example, but make sure that it's not poking out of the back of granny's head' A quick scan around the viewfinder before you press the shutter button helps to spot any distractions in the background.

2. Think about props and outfits

Incorporating Christmas themed props can add a fun element to your family portraits - and you'll usually find an abundance of appropriate items already in your house. Think Christmas puddings, crackers, fairy lights, pine cones - anything which adds that “festive” touch. You could even go one step further and have the whole family dressed up - if you choose elf costumes, don't forget to enter our “jessopselfie” competition!

3. Choose the best camera and lens for the job

It's tempting to take quick snaps with your phone, but for photographs that turn into memories you want to keep for a lifetime, nothing beats a proper camera. A camera with interchangeable lenses gives you the most flexibility, allowing you to choose the perfect one for the job. There's never been more choice when it comes to choosing a great camera - with something to suit every budget available from Jessops. A wide angle lens (anything from 16mm to 24mm) is great for capturing the whole scene, while a prime lens, such as a 50mm is ideal for low-light and portraiture, allowing you to create a shallow depth of field effect.

4. Consider your lighting

The light in your photograph can make or break it. You might try your best to capture moments during the daylight hours, but in the winter, most of the fun starts after dark. It's not as costly as you might think to invest in proper lighting - solutions such as the Interfit F5 2-Head Fluorescent Lighting Kit can be picked up for under £150 and will illuminate your shots - especially posed portraits - fantastically.

5. Strike a pose

For your family photography this Christmas, aim for a good mix of posed portraits and “documentary style” natural shots. For your posed portraits, avoid standing in rigid straight groups - after all you wouldn't do that in real life, so it can look a little odd in a photograph. Try to mix up people's heights in group shots so it looks a little more dynamic and ask people to stand a little closer together than might seem normal to emphasise a feeling of family unity. Make sure your subjects are having fun - ask them to pull funny faces, or tell a few cheesy jokes to relax your subjects first.

We'd love to see your family Christmas shots this year - share them with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.