If you’ve just got a camera for Christmas, or you’re looking for ideas for what to shoot, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five ideas for shots worth looking out for this festive season. Whether your camera is brand new or just about hanging in there, these five shots are achievable no matter what gear you own

1. Blurry Backgrounds

Known as bokeh (Japanese for blur), this is the trick of making your subject stand out by blurring the background. It’s achieved by using a wide open aperture (f2.8 or even lower if you can). The smaller the f-stop number, the more blur you get.

You’ll need a fast lens to do it justice, but the best place to try out the effect is at home. You’ve probably seen shots of Christmas baubles hanging from the tree, with blurred Christmas lights behind. This is easy enough to achieve provided your lens is fast enough. However, if your lens isn’t fast enough, you can still fake it.

Keep the Christmas tree in the background but hold your bauble in front of the tree and as close to the lens as you can get it (while still being able to focus). Now increase the distance between the bauble and the tree. When you focus on the bauble, the tree goes out of focus. The further you move the bauble from the tree, the more blur you’ll see in the background. This works pretty well with still-life photography like baubles and Christmas trees, but it works even better with people. Get lots of blur in the background and your subject will really pop out of the shot.

If your lens isn’t fast enough to achieve these kinds of soft, creamy, blurred backgrounds, think about investing in a new one. Our f1.8 lenses are the perfect place to start.    

image shot by: Aaron Burden

2. Intimate details

Simple compositions can have much more impact than shots that try to include everything. Find a small detail that communicates Christmas and concentrate your lens on it. It could be four simple gold baubles on a white background, or a single bauble presented by a family member.

image shot by: Annie Spratt


3. Street shots

Christmas is about moments, and when it comes to capturing a uniquely special moment that defines the festive season, street photography delivers… provided you have the time to sit it out.

Christmas means different things to different people. Whether you’re after typical Christmas shots, or something with an edge that communicates the grittier side of the season, getting outside is the way to go. If you’re lucky, it might even snow…

Because they’re silent, mirrorless cameras are ideal for street photography. The LCD screen on the back also enables you to compose and shoot your image without even holding your camera to your eye. Perfect for those times when you want to catch a special moment without being noticed.

image shot by: Craig Whitehead

4. Light trails

Put your camera on a tripod (or perch it somewhere stable) and you no longer have to worry about keeping your camera still. It means you can drop your ISO to its lowest setting and get everything razor sharp. But you can do more than this. With your camera completely steady, during the exposure any movement of the lights in your composition will create light trails. The length of the light trail will be determined by the length of your exposure time and how fast the lights are moving. Set your camera up at the roadside with a landmark building in the background and catch trails of light from car headlamps and tail lights. While this works great at any time of the year, it’s only at Christmas that you get a chance to mix the ghostly light trails with steady coloured lights from street decorations. Perhaps surprisingly, this also works well in black and white with a single primary colour as an accent.

You can take the shot from down low, with your lens perched somewhere stable, but a tripod will make a world of difference to the types of shots you can get. If you need further persuading to get a tripod, check out our blog exploring a few of the options that having one will open up. Just make sure you get one that’s fit for the job. That’s where we come in. Take a look at our range of tripods and monopods, and if you’re having trouble making up your mind, then drop into a store – our staff are photographers themselves and will be happy to help.

image shot by: Bob Walsh, instagram: @bobwalshphotography/

5. Home is where the heart is

You won’t get through Christmas without taking shots of the family so why not embrace the task and confront the challenge head-on?  

Coming up with something a bit different is always the challenge. Anyone can position the kids in front of a Christmas tree and get them to smile, but the shot is so much more captivating when they’re doing something. Blowing snowflakes at the camera, dressing up as Santa or just jumping up and down all make for more interesting photos. It’s all about making it a bit different. Why not show the kids as silhouettes in front of the Christmas tree, or focus on their reflection in a silver bauble? If you’re feeling ambitious, have them read a book with a light hidden between the pages so their faces are illuminated by the glow.

It’s the little details that make a difference – novelty reindeer antlers, a sprig of mistletoe or a length of tinsel is all it takes to make a photo look festive. Don’t over-complicate things – less is often more. Keep the shot simple and make sure your background isn’t distracting.

If you’re keen on finding other imaginative ways to photograph the kids, then take a look at the work of John Wilhelm. He’s put his kids into all sorts of situations from an enchanted forest to mountain-climbing in blizzard conditions… and that’s just for starters.

image shot by: Michael Nunes

6. Reflections

Photographers love reflections so it’s no surprise we’re drawn to water. From puddled streets to lakes and rivers, the possibilities for reflections in bodies of water are endless. And you know what works best of all in those reflections? Twinkly lights. Shoot from down low for dramatic effect or go higher if you’re trying to show all the reflections. You’ll need a narrow aperture if you want the lights to stay in focus throughout the reflection.

image shot by: Serge Kutozov

Anyone can stand in a certain spot and press the shutter but really good photos have something unique about them. It might be the time of day, the weather or a particular lens the photographer opts for. Or it might be the angle the shot was taken from, trails of light, the interplay of shadows… However you choose to take your shot, aim to make it different. With time on your hands over Christmas, you have no excuse not to experiment.

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