Part of the joy of Christmastime is using all the beautiful imagery and lights to your advantage to shoot wintery, Christmassy photos. The right lighting can emphasise the dreamy and enchanting atmosphere of your images. Here are some professional lighting tips and inspiration ideas for creating cosy Christmas themed photography, whether outdoors, in the studio, or just shooting in your home.
1. Use Soft, Diffused Lighting
Natural light is a photographer's best friend, and it can work wonders for your Christmas photography. Take advantage of the soft, diffused sunlight during the golden hour, which occurs shortly after sunrise or before sunset. Position your subject near a window or doorway to allow the natural light to illuminate them and create a warm, cosy glow.
If you're in a studio with limited natural lighting options, soft, diffused daylight-balanced lighting can be your best friend and will help you replicate the bright winter sunshine of the season. Place the softbox or diffuser between your subject and the light source to achieve the desired effect.
Bigger softboxes = a wider, softer spread of light, and can be great for adding a wash of lighting on your model or scene. Suitable options include the 105cm Rice Bowl softbox or the 120cm Octagonal softbox which come with diffuser sheets and grids to help you control your light.
2. Consider Colours
If aiming for a traditional Christmas theme or effect that's perfect for the family Christmas photography cards or just for the season, consider not only the traditional greens, reds and whites items in your shot that will invoke a Christmassy feeling, but also of the colour and temperature of your professional photography flash or LED lightings.
A warmer white colour temperature in your shot will give a warm and cosy feeling that a colder, bluer colour temperature might not. Consider streetlights on a dark night, or warm coloured Christmas lights.
Alternatively, will a colder colour temperature be more showing of the effect of the sunlight reflecting off bright white snow?
Or, consider a 5-in-1 Reflector which will have White, Silver, and Gold reflective surfaces if you'd like to control the colour of your flash or LED precisely. Gold will cast a warmer reflection, while silver will reflect cooler reflections.
3. Experiment with Fairy Lights & Bokeh
Fairy lights are a popular Christmas decoration and can add a magical touch to your photography. Use them as a background or wrap them around a prop to create a bokeh effect. The tiny, twinkling lights will create a dreamy atmosphere and make your photos feel festive and whimsical.
To shoot bokeh, set your camera lens aperture to its max f-stop, leaving it wide open and in selective focus mode. The shot should then focus on your subject or model closer to you, and leave the lights to blur in the background.
Or, position your subject in front of a lit tree and adjust your camera settings to capture the twinkling lights. You can also experiment with different angles and perspectives to create unique and captivating compositions. Make sure to light your subject from the front too, to make them stand out against the lights.
Christmas lights can be a great addition to family Christmas scene mini shoots, and can add a warm and cosy feeling to portraits that you can ensure will be hung up for a family to remember for years to come.
4. Consider Candlelight
Candlelight can add a cosy and intimate feel to your Christmas photography. Place candles strategically around your subject to create a warm and romantic ambiance. Experiment with different candle sizes and colours to achieve the desired effect. However, always prioritize safety and ensure that the candles are placed in a secure and fireproof location.
5. Experiment with Coloured Gels
Add a pop of colour to your Christmas photos by using professional coloured gels on your lights. Gels are transparent sheets that can be placed in front of your light source to change the colour temperature. Experiment with different colours, such as red, green, or blue, to create a festive and vibrant atmosphere.
Remember, practice makes perfect! Don't be afraid to experiment with different lighting tips and techniques, settings to find your own Christmas unique style. By following these tips, you'll be able to capture striking and dreamy Christmas themed photos that will evoke the magic of the season.