Top 5 Tips for Capturing Holiday Moments

empty polaroid pictures

It always feels like the holidays come up so fast, at least as an adult with small kids. I can never quite believe they are here. We put up our tree this weekend and decorated it on Tuesday night—and I still can’t believe it!

With so much to take care of (decorations, gifts, cards, cooking, hosting etc.) it can be easy to feel unprepared for actually experiencing and capturing the moment, so to help you out, here are my top tips for capturing holiday moments through photography:

Top 5 tips for capturing holiday moments:

1) Think of all the moments and emotions you want to capture, then identify the three most important shots

A question that is always helpful to think about is—what do I most want to remember about this time? If you can, sit down and write a list of what you most want to remember about the holidays. What are the moments on your wishlist that you would love to capture? Think big and think small, and think specific as well as general.

For example your child’s first view of the tree (if that is how you celebrate) or a visit to see Santa are big and specific one-off moments.

But your child asleep in their holiday PJs is a small moment that could happen any time during the season and could be just as evocative of the holiday spirit.

Think also about what emotions you want to capture—joy, excitement, delight, anticipation for example. Try to be open to capturing all emotions, not just positive ones.

Once you brainstorm and create your long list, pick the three most important shots that you’d really like to get.

Then use your list for inspiration, motivation. Have your list increase your awareness of the moments worth capturing.

Don’t view it as yet another “to-do list” you have to complete. You don’t have to capture all the moments on the list; there will be plenty of spontaneous moments not on the list that you capture too.

Liam’s first trip to visit Santa at Macy’s

2) Focus on natural interactions with just a few posed moments

As I’ve talked about before, a few posed moments are cute, but if all your photos are posed, you’re missing out on the opportunity to create a richer and more in depth experience through photography.

Focus on natural interactions instead to cover many more aspects of your child’s personality and experience.

One of my favorite moments from Christmas one year—Liam cracking up with his cousin at the family celebration

3) Make sure you get in some of the photos yourself

See my recent blog post with suggestions on different ways to do this.

Photo taken by my husband on Christmas morning

4) Don’t forget the details

Not all photos have to come from your list. Capture the details—favorite ornaments and decorations, holiday themed art projects, gifts wrapped up under the tree, delicious treats—everything that adds to the holiday experience for you.

Gotta have champagne!

5) Make it a fun experience for everyone

Tree decorating is one of my favorite traditions


In your desire to capture the perfect holiday moment, don’t ruin the moment! Use photography to create fun experiences and remember, not everyone has to be having a great time all the time—in fact they won’t. But you can use photography to look for and focus on what is best about the holidays for you (and to get through the harder moments).

For more tips on how to capture the moment through photography, join my mailing list and get blog posts, tips and workbooks delivered straight to your inbox.