How to Take Magical Photos of Kids in Front of the Christmas Tree

The magic of Christmas has officially arrived. With Thanksgiving behind us, most of us are fully invested in operation Christmas. Whether you choose a real tree or artificial, Christmas trees are going up in homes everywhere.

If you have little ones, you will likely want a few annual tree photos — but how do you make them magical?

There are a few pro tips I’d love to share to help you take magical photos of your kids in front of the Christmas tree this year with any camera, whether it’s a phone or DSLR.

*If you are using a DSLR or “real camera”, shoot in manual mode or aperture priority (AV).

*If you are using a phone, use it on Portrait Mode if you have the option.

How to Create Magical Christmas Tree Photos

1. Move Your Subject Away from the Tree

One of the most common mistakes parents will make when taking photos of their kids in front of the Christmas tree is placing their children right in front of the tree. Do not place your children right in front of the tree if you want professional looking photos. Instead, move your child away from the tree. The farther you move them away, the dreamier it will be with a creamy background and pretty bokeh. Bokeh is a common term for photographers but it basically means creating those dreamy balls of light in the background. Let’s take a look!

Notice the how the distance between the tree creates a pretty twinkle and draws more attention to the kids?

2. Position Yourself Close to Your Subject

Once your subject is placed a distance from the tree, be sure to position yourself close to your subject. The closer you are to them, the dreamier the background will be. Make sure your focus is on your subject. This is obvious I know but if you are using a camera on your phone, you want to make sure you tap the subjects face, telling your phone where you want it to focus. If your phone has a portrait mode, this would be the time to use it. We want all the focus on the person, not the tree. If you are using a DSLR, you want to keep a wide aperture (low f-stop) to blur the background as much as possible. Let’s take a look!

At just a few feet away, the background has a pretty twinkle.

Positioning myself closer to the subject created a really dreamy background.

3. Use Natural Light to Light Your Subject

Natural light is the preferred way to light your subject for beautiful, natural photos. When possible, position your child near a window or open natural light. You want your subject to be facing the natural light with the tree behind them.

Do not have them face a dark room and when possible, turn off other lights from your home. Do not use a flash. A flash will disrupt your lighting and completely override what you are trying to accomplish. Aim to take photos in front of the tree during the day when natural light is available.

This photo was taken with a flash with the kids facing a darker room.

Moving away from the tree, positioning myself closer to the children and using natural light creates a pro looking photo.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Taking Photos in Front of the Tree

These were mentioned above but deserve their own space too! You want to avoid these 3 common mistakes when taking photos of your kids in front of the Christmas tree.

  1. Do not use a flash. Use natural light instead of flash or indoor lights from your home.
  2. Do not take the photos at night. Take your photos during the day with natural light.
  3. Do not put your child right up against the tree. The larger the distance between them and the tree, the better.

I hope you find these tips valuable as you head into the holiday season. Pair these tips with some other great tips for taking photos of your children. Check out 5 Tips for Parents to Take Better Pictures.

All the best to you and your family this holiday season!


Danielle Blewitt

Pittsburgh Family Photographer

Life moves too fast. Although we can’t slow it down, we can record the moments that fill our hearts and tell our story through photos and films. I am a Pittsburgh family photographer and film maker that helps families record their stories and pause some of life’s greatest moments.

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about Danielle Blewitt

Life Moves Too Fast!

Hi, I’m Danielle. I’m a Pittsburgh Family + Newborn photographer. As a mom of two, I know how fleeting the early years are. Since we can’t slow down time, we can record the moments that mean so much. I help Pittsburgh families hit pause by recording these memories in photographs and films and I would love to work with you. Let’s see what we can create!

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