How to Take Great Pictures of Your Christmas Tree

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Holiday Photography, Photography Tips

How to Take Great Pictures of Your Christmas Tree | Backdrop Express Photography Blog
There is something special about a Christmas tree, which makes it the perfect subject for a holiday picture. There are also plenty of Christmas tree photos that focus on a single ornament, and many of you want to capture pictures of your tree purely for its own beauty. Regardless of your reason for taking a Christmas tree photo, there are various effects you can get out of the picture depending on the settings you choose on your camera, and whether or not you use your flash when you take the picture.

Most of the time, Christmas tree pictures should not be taken with a flash. If this type of picture is snapped carelessly, your holiday picture can wind up looking very unnatural. If you use a flash, but are otherwise careful about the other light in your room and the settings on your camera the tree will be lit evenly, but it will overpower other lights in the room and make it difficult to see the ornaments.


Most experts also suggest using a tripod when taking Christmas tree pictures. There are some people who do not own a tripod, and in these situations it is recommended that the photographer try and prop the camera the best they with books or whatever they can find that will help keep the camera steady. The next important thing to remember is to use a slow shutter speed; this is part of the reason why a tripod is recommended, because simply holding the camera still for any length of time can be difficult. By setting the ISO relatively slow, between 100-200 ideally, you can reduce pixel noise as well and get a clear shot. If you want to keep focus mainly on the tree, and leave the emphasis off the background, you can also widen your aperture to give the background a blurred effect.

christmas ornaments laying on a white background

Auto Exposure

To get the exposure right on your Christmas tree photos, the easy thing to do is to simply use the auto-exposure setting on the camera, this will allow for clear pictures even when the other lighting is less than ideal. Most Christmas tree pictures will turn out better when there is not a lot of added light. However, when there are other subjects besides the tree, such as children, the rules change a bit.


As beautiful as your tree may be, your real focus for this type of picture is your little one’s shining face. Sometimes the light in the room may be adequate enough to properly light a child’s face, for example when sunlight comes in the window on Christmas morning, but it is hard to be sure until you test the photo. You could do this simply by trial and error, or you could get close to the child and meter his face to make sure it will have enough light to suit your needs. In this case, if you find you want more light, you can go ahead and use the flash (although not directly in the child’s face). Some people do not mind lower light in this type of holiday picture because they find it lends a softer, more angelic look to the photo. However, if you want all the focus on the tree and no distracting background images such as furniture and toys, you can put up a simple muslin backdrop to isolate the tree.


Sometimes, you may want to get some shots of your Christmas tree that are a bit different from the tried and true and have a more artistic feel to them. Many of these Christmas tree photos will go ahead and use the flash or other lighting in order to get an alternate effect.

White Balance

To make their tree pictures look unique, some people play with their saturation and white balance settings on their camera. A lower saturation can mean less overkill with the lights and a more defined focus on ornaments. This is good to do with branch close-ups. Adjusting the white balance can actually bring a hint of color to the background of the photo. A fluorescent setting will make your photo have a slight pinkness to it, while a cloudy setting brings in some yellow.

Do you take photos of your beautifully decorated Christmas tree every year?

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Interested in getting some more Christmas picture tips? Check out 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Family Christmas Pictures!

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