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Five Creative Photography Ideas for the Holidays

Joyful young people holding sparklers in a club

The festivities are in full swing, nature has turned toward wintery wonder, and families are gathering together. The holidays are here again! This time of year bursts with opportunities for creative photography, but sometimes, our holiday cards play it safe with those tried-and-true sweaters.

Looking for something more inventive this year? Here are a few holly-jolly ideas to prime the imaginative shutterbug within.

Common items, extraordinary effects

It doesn’t take a fancy lens or photography studio to create holiday cards with personality and charm. All you need are a few common items and an eye for that unique angle.

Consider the humble Christmas ball ornament. Gather your family together, hold ornament at the right angle, and your family portrait bends with a frolicsome Escher vibe. Or try holding a prism to your camera lens. Get the light to refract just right, and your subject will be illuminated within a blossom of color.

Consider items to set the stage, too. A well-placed bubble machine dresses your family in tropical snow. Some glue, sticks, tinsel, and heavy-duty cardstock combine into photobooth props that let your children’s artistry shine through.

Light up your photos

Capturing holiday lights can be tricky. You must balance the very small, very bright lights with their low-light surroundings. But a little ingenuity, and camera setting know-how, can produce some brilliant effects.

Use the Christmas tree as backlighting for a gorgeous silhouette shot. The family menorah will brighten the faces of loved ones against a dark backdrop. And try using the colorful lights streaming through the window for a brilliant effect.

Want to skip the ambient light hassle? No worries. Wrap your family in a skein of lights for a playful photographic moment.

Let it snow

If you live in an area with snow, it’s almost sacrilege to pass up those clean, crisp shots. But like holiday lights, snow can be photographically touchy. Here are a few winter photography tips to help.

Set your shutter speed to be relatively fast. This will help capture those plump and beautiful snowflakes. You’ll also have better success if you choose a cloudy day over a sunny one and increase your exposure. Oh, and feel free to brighten up the snow with some post-processing editing. (It’s not cheating.)

With your camera set, you’ll find snow makes for a diverse canvas. Pristine, untouched landscapes are a go-to, but a single line of footsteps leading into the distance can evoke a sense of mystery. Look to how the snow drapes over benches and trellises. It’ll change how you relate to these everyday objects, especially if they contrast in bright, vivid colors.

Try a black-and-white shot, too. These photos imbue the snow with a pensive romanticism that’s perfect for a classic holiday card.

Combine multiple photos

Why settle for one photo when you can have many? Lay out your photos to design a mosaic.

Collect pictures from last year, and arrange the green-colored images to form a tree or other festive shape. Then use the others as background. Remember editing software can layer elements to your photos for extra effect.

Use pictures to spell out a holiday message. Have each family member pose with a card containing one word. When strung together like Christmas lights, they’ll send the recipient a cheerful well-wish.

Try the photo-within-a-photo technique, too. Take a picture of a family member and make an extra-large print of it. Then have another family member hold the print, take a picture, and print that image. Keep going until all your family members are present in an infinite regression of merriment.

Strike a pose

The traditional family portrait is a classic. It’s not going anywhere, but maybe this is the year to spice up more than the eggnog.

Have your family lie in the snow like a giant snowflake or procession of snow angels, and have a friend take a photo from on high. Next, break out the chalk to draw a wintery scene in the driveway. Then have the children lie down to act it out—for example, standing on each other’s shoulders to place the star atop the tree.

And mistletoe has impelled significant others to impromptu poses for centuries.

Create a custom holiday card

Showcasing your creative photography has never been easier than with Motif. Motif offers you a variety of professional layouts, editing options, and text tools to create the perfect holiday card. These custom cards will be a welcome addition to any family tradition, and keep friends close during this special time of year.

Bring your photo memories to life with Motif.

Experience the joy of creating personalized photo projects with Motif. Our photo book app seamlessly works with Apple Photos in macOS and iOS, doing the heavy-lifting while leaving the creative freedom to you.