How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully

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I am Neyssa Lee a mother of six, who is planning obsessed, and uses photography to help you see the beauty in your own family’s chaos. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

I LOVE Christmas morning. I love the excitement of what is under the tree, of being all together as a family, and celebrating the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. Being a parent has made the holiday even more special as I love watching my kids open their gifts, seeing their faces and joy as we celebrate together.

As magical as the holiday is, trying to photograph it can feel overwhelming. With these simple tips you can capture those moments that matter most and then set your camera down and just enjoy the day together.


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of toddler by Christmas tree

Photograph your kids taking in the presents and the tree.

In our home we wait for everyone to be awake and ready before we start opening gifts. This gives me time to capture the kids as they first come down the stairs and see the tree, or as the first one awake looks at the presents under the tree. These are some of my favorite photos as it captures the anticipation and excitement most.

One year we even had a white Christmas, so I was able to capture my son taking in the snow outside with the Christmas tree lit up beside him.


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of boy and his cat looking out the window by Christmas Tree Lights

Plan ahead and only photograph certain presents being opened.

Again, the goal is not to have a flip book of images. And let’s be real, what’s important is not the actual gifts received. Photograph those gifts that you know will bring the biggest reactions.

For example, we always get one outfit for each child (a “need” gift). While they he may appreciate it, his face isn’t going to be quite the same as when he opens the one lego set he’s been asking for for months.


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of boy opening lego set

Photograph the details.

This one can seem tough amongst the chaos that present opening might bring. However, slow down and look for those details that make up the story of this particular Christmas. Things like, the way their little fingers pull open the wrapping paper, or the way they started playing with something right away, or maybe the way they circled around each other to see what their brother got.

In a few years time, these detail photos will bring you right back to this Christmas and those special stages the kids were at that year.


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of Toddler reading books

Hand off the camera to your spouse.

You were there too, so make sure you’re in the frame too. I will set the camera settings and hand off my camera to my husband to take a few pictures of me there too. My husband has captured both photos of the kids opening gifts with me in the background and me opening gifts, all proof that I was there too.

In turn, don’t forget to capture your husband, too. The focus can be so much on the kids that we forget that mom and dad are important too. (Plus when you look back in five years you’ll think, “wow, look how young I was!” Ha!) I will ensure I grab some of the kids snuggled in his lap opening gifts and a few of him opening the gift I’m most excited for him to open – again using the tip above, capturing those things that will bring the most reaction.


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of mom opening christmas presents surrounded by children


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of dad opening Christmas Presents

Set the camera aside and enjoy the rest of your Christmas morning.

Now that you’ve captured a few of those important, story-telling photos, you can set the camera aside and just enjoy the morning with your family. Keep it nearby, you can always pick it back up, but rest easy knowing you’ve captured some beautiful moments that tell the story of your holiday.


How to Photograph Christmas Morning Beautifully, Photo Tips, Neyssa Lee Photography, Photo of Christmas Morning Present Opening

Now it’s your turn. Go capture your Christmas morning (or evening, whenever you open gifts together as a family) beautifully. Using these tips I hope you can document your holiday without having 3,000 photos in the end, or feeling the pressure to capture every moment. I also hope you’re inspired to get in the frame too, because you were there too!

While these tips can be used no matter what type of camera you use, if you’re not using your DSLR because it is too intimidating or you find you take better photos with your smart phone, let’s change that. Grab some extra tips over on my Free Resources Page. (And make sure you’re following me over on Instagram!)

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