How to Photograph Your Christmas Decorations - Cramer Imaging - Quality Fine Art Photography
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How to Photograph Your Christmas Decorations

How to Photograph Your Christmas Decorations
Christmas is coming and you have some beautiful decorations set out on display.  Have you thought of taking some photos for your photo album?  Do you know how to create memorable holiday photos?  We, here at Cramer Imaging, would like to share a few tips since we are professional photographers ourselves.

Taking amazing Christmas decoration photos is simply a matter of following a few basic photographic composition rules, focusing on details, trying for something different, and being creative.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality nature photograph of red poinsettia flowers with a black background in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Any and all Christmas decorations you have will work for photo subjects.

Composition Rules


There are a few composition rules floating around in the world of photography circles.  These include the well known "rule of thirds," the golden mean, and simplicity.  Each of these composition rules has its uses and place in photography.  Why do I even bring these up?  Because they are just what you will be using for your Christmas decoration photos.

I would suggest that beginners start with the rule of thirds and no other techniques.  More advanced artists can experiment around with simplicity.  It really takes a good eye to see the golden mean.

Rule of Thirds


Spend enough time with photographers and you will hear this composition technique touted from the rooftops.  I use it heavily myself in my own work.

So what is it?  It is very simply that you divide the area of the photo into thirds, like below, and you use those guides to measure the weight of your composition from.

A plain graphic guide for the photography rule of thirds in landscape orientation as provided by Cramer Imaging
Landscape orientation
A plain graphic guide for the photography rule of thirds in portrait orientation as provided by Cramer Imaging
Portrait orientation
This means that you will not be putting something important in the direct center of the image.  That would go against this rule directly and create a weak final photo.

Take this example photo below and see how I used the rule of thirds to great effect in my composition.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality fine art photograph of a Christmas wreath, candle, and ornament in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Original image.
A guide image on the rule of thirds photography rule on a Christmas themed photo as done by Cramer Imaging
Guide overlayed.
Notice how the candle and the ribbon are positioned to take advantage of the rule of thirds in this example.

Simplicity


Professional quality fine art product photograph of a Holy Family Christmas figurine in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho by Cramer Imaging
With this technique, you get the full impact of the subject matter without any distractions.
Now that I've gone and shown you the hard and fast rule of most photographers' composition, now let me show you the opposite.

Simplicity is a different technique where you can center the subject in the frame.  Simply put, simplicity is exactly what it sounds like:  extremely simple in what you include in the frame.

Usually, a simplistic composition fills the entire frame with the subject matter like you see in the photo to the left.

With this composition technique you must be extremely conscious of and attentive to what your background looks like.  If there are any distracting elements, no matter how small, the composition can be shattered.

You can use this technique by itself or in combination with the rule of thirds for an even more powerful composition trick.

Golden Mean


This is a rather fancy sounding composition technique that is actually more difficult than it sounds and certainly not for the faint-hearted.  Simply put, the golden mean is a mathematical formula, found in nature, that results in the spiral shapes that we know from snail shells.

Other than taking a photo with a snail shell in it, this composition technique can be a bit difficult to see.  I don't use it often myself because of this.

Cramer Imaging's guide for the golden mean or snail shell spiral composition technique a with color illustration
As you can see, the golden mean is also comprised of spiraling squares in its composition.
If you can spot the opportunity, this composition technique will be just as pleasing to the eye as any of the rest.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality fine art photograph of a red and white Santa hat on a green background in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Original image
Cramer Imaging's guide for the golden mean or snail shell spiral composition technique overlayed on a Santa hat photograph
Guide overlayed

Focus on the Details


If you really want your Christmas decoration photos to pop this year, then you need to focus on the little things.  Those tiny sometimes overlooked details can be the difference between an amazing photo and something that looks wrong.

Check out these examples of Christmas decoration details and how they can add something special to your holiday photo session this year.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality fine art photograph of a red Christmas ball ornament on a lit tree in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho

As you can see, the little things matter too.  Don't overlook them this year with your camera in hand.

Experiment and Be Creative


Once you have mastered some of the basics above, now it's time for you to try it out on your own.  Start thinking about your decorations in new ways.

One thing about photography is that there really is no right or wrong way to photograph something.  Ok, so you have a traditional looking photo of your Christmas tree.  Try for something a bit different.

When you think outside the box, you can come up with some really creative photos.  Those kinds of photos are the images you will be showing off to friends and family.  Those are the photographs that they will be impressed with the most.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality fine art photograph of a cat sitting in front of a lit Christmas tree in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Using your children or pets in your Christmas decoration photos can add something different to your composition.
Christmas trees and holiday gifts are very common subjects for the camera this time of year.  What else to you have?  Try adding in a Nativity scene to your photo line-up.  Don't have one?  That's ok.  Find something non-traditional to shoot pictures of.

My family had a Christmas village and a model train set as part of our holiday decor.  Try for something different like that.  It will add some flavor to your seasonal photo album.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality fine art photograph of yellow and green blurry Christmas lights in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho

Start arranging things.  Start thinking about creative ways to take out-of-focus photos.  There's no correct way to do this part either.  Use what you have or borrow what you can get.  Buy more if you must.

One word of caution for the experimenting photographer: be prepared for some ideas to work better in your head than in real life.  It happens a lot.  But keep trying.  Some ideas will work out well and others will work out better than expected.

Conclusion


Taking pictures of your Christmas decorations this year can actually be a very fun and rewarding activity.  It's family-friendly as well.  Kids love to be part of something like this with their parents.  They will gladly help you create some beautiful photos for your album this year.  The most important part is to enjoy yourself with this activity and during this holiday season.