Quick tips for better holiday photos from Michelle Enebo Photography

It’s that time of photo flurries and photo flops! Luckily, our very talented friend and professional family photographer Michelle Enebo comes to the rescue. She has some great tips in her winter newsletter for great DIY holiday photos. Enjoy and get out there and take fabulous photos!


Whether you are lighting  a tree, a menorah or even trying to capture birthday candles here are some helpful tips.  Stick with me, these tips get way more fun after we get past the technicalities.  (For the record, no children or animals were harmed in the making of these pictures!)

Three GirlsTechnical:

1. Turn off your flash — Have I said this before?  I feel like a broken record!  There is no way to capture the warmth and glow of the season with a harsh flash.

2. Use a wide aperture — If you are using an slr (dslr) camera then choose the widest aperture (smallest number) to let in the most light. If you don’t have one yet I highly suggest the ‘nifty 50’ for your holiday gift list.  They are insanely cheap for a lens that opens up to 1.8!

3. Steady yourself — Since you will be in low light the shutter will need to stay open longer.  That means your pictures will be blurry unless you use a tripod, or some other stable surface.  (The edge of a table, a stack of books, you get the idea.)

4. Increase your ISO — Again, in low light you need to increase your ISO to make your images brighter.  Go as high as you can without it being too grainy.  You will have to test this with your own camera.

5.  White Balance — Choose the tungsten white balance option on your camera to balance the yellow color your candles and lights cast.



Mini1. Use the holiday lights to illuminate your subject. Mini was napping in a dark corner but my settings and the tree lights gave me plenty to work with. You do NOT need to have the  whole tree in your picture. to tell the story.

Cooper2. Wrap some holiday lights around your favorite child or pet. Just for fun, not for punishment!  In this picture Cooper (the dog) is not really mad at us.  He makes that face when we tickle his whiskers. Please note that some lights get hot so you will want to be quick.

Sun Valley3. When taking pictures of lights outside try to capture them one hour before complete darkness. The contrast of the dusk sky and  the lights is better than a black sky and it is easier to set the right exposure.

4. Want to up the ante?  Cut a holiday shape from a piece of cardstock that is larger than your lens face.  Tape the card over your lens.  Set your lens to manual focus and deliberately unfocus your camera. Magically, the lights will blur in the shape of your cut out. Try it!

Star Tree

Visit Michelle’s website at Michelle Enebo to see her amazing shots of families and kids. If you’re in the Seattle area, photo packages make a fabulous gift!